FC Nordsjælland stunned the whole of Danish football when they won the 2011/12 Superliga on the final day of the season to bring an end to FC København's three-year monopoly on the title. Now, though, it is time for them to attempt to repeat the trick.
Winning the Danish Cup in 2010 and 2011 had given the 'Danish Barcelona' a taste of silverware. Their moniker derives from their penchant for short, sharp passing that revolved around a 'false nine'. This style proved a great success last term, though the lack of a natural centre-forward was, on occasion, also a handicap for coach Kasper Hjulmand.
This predicament should be eliminated by the return of Morten Nordstrand from FCK, where the 29-year-old striker never really settled. However, there is no denying his ability and the safe surroundings of Nordsjælland are likely to allow him to blossom once more.
Hjulmand has not been particularly actuive in the transfer market aside from the acquisition of Nordstrand, though there is a gap to fill in central defence following the departure of Danish international Andreas Bjelland to FC Twente.
"We do have players at the club who can play out of position, but of course we are looking for an extra player for our defence," said Nordsjælland owner Allan Pedersen. "It is a tough position, and the new player will need to have potential to develop further."
Until Bjelland's successor is known, Nordsjælland's chances of taking the title for the second time in succession are hard to judge. However, even at this stage ahead of the big kick-off this weekend, experts seem to be dismissing last season as a one off. No first-time champions have ever successfully defended the title and FCK are expected to resume normal service this time around.
"We still do not feel that we are a top team, just because we have won the Danish championship," said Hjulmand. "In order to be a top team, you have to be in the upper half of the league table year after year and prove you can perform continuously at the top level.
"The Superliga will be even tighter this season, and there will be a lot of close matches. Of course we would like to be at the top, and we definitely hope to end up there, but we do not take anything for granted."