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Commentary: Match of the millennium
By Thomas Myren, 25 November 2007, 23:45

The quarter final against Juventus in 1997 is still the biggest match played at Lerkendal, but that happened in the last millennium. Next up is Chelsea.



When it comes to attention worldwide, the "group final" on Wednesday however might be the biggest. The Internet has made the globe "smaller", and I guess more people will follow this match tightly than ten years ago. Hopefully the tie against Chelsea will even be the greatest match in the history of Rosenborg.

The result might end in our advantage, but it will be very hard to beat the play in the glorious win in Valencia (video highlights). The first 30 minutes were quite even, but after the 0-1 goal of Iversen we totally dominated the match.

We did also have the initiative in the match in Trondheim (video highlights), but Valencia did not give us much competition. This time they however fought and tried, but aggressive and smart play from Rosenborg in defence took away any initiative.

As said we really played good football, and especially our young midfield of Skjelbred, Tettey, Sapara and Traore performed well. They often tried difficult passes in tight situations - and succeed! Through the whole game the Rosenborg players played one-two's with each other, attacking swiftly and relentlessly.

In contrast to the mentioned home match, we were inefficient in Spain. Iversen scored twice, but his striker colleague Kone should have scored three. Even Valencia coach Koeman admitted that we could/should have won 4-0 or even 5-0.

Match report: Valencia - Rosenborg 0-2

Knocking out Milan in 96, going to the before mentioned quarter finals, is still the greatest moment in the Rosenborg history, but the game in Valencia was the greatest football we ever have played. I doubt I will see a more perfect Rosenborg match ever again, but that doesn't mean we won't achieve good results even in the future.

Chelsea revenge?
Hopefully we can get another win against Chelsea. Forgetting all the maths, I actually think it was quite good Chelsea didn't win in Gelsenkirchen. Now we won't face "hungry" reserves at Lerkendal, just "well fed" stars quite satisfied with a draw, securing their qualification. Chelsea even have a home match left, and this hopefully make them relax a bit more, improving our chances.

I expect the Chelsea players are looking for revenge after the 1-1 draw in London, and this will of course be another hard match for us. But it should be possible getting one or three points. Chelsea's previous results in Norway are not that impressive:

1997/98 CWC: Tromsø - Chelsea 3-2
1998/99 CWC: Vålerenga - Chelsea 2-3
2002/03 UC: Viking - Chelsea 4-2 (Viking celebrations)

This weekend it has been snowing a lot here in Trondheim, and this snow might be laying for the rest of the winter. But hopefully the playing conditions will be good. As you hopefully have experienced, also Rosenborg benefit of being able to play the ball along the ground.

Qualification
Our objective is still to secure the 3rd place, but now everything is possible. Qualifying for the "group of death" (the teams in group B have the best average UEFA ranking!) will be really something. If we succeed, this will be our third time - we did it in 99/00 in additon to the before mentioned 96/97 season.

We need one of these eight scenarios going through to the 1/8 finals in the Champions League:

1) Six points.

2) Four points.

3) Win against Schalke.

4) Draw against both Chelsea and Schalke.

5) Draw against Chelsea and loss against Schalke, if Valencia beat Schalke and Chelsea don't lose against Valencia.

6) Loss against Chelsea and draw against Schalke, if Valencia don't lose against Schalke and don't beat Chelsea.

7) Win against Chelsea and loss against Schalke, if Valencia don't lose against Schalke.

8) Rosenborg, Valencia and Schalke all end with 7 points if Rosenborg lose both matches, while Valencia win against Schalke and draw against Chelsea. Then the internal goal difference counts. Right now it is Rosenborg 4-2, Schalke 2-1 and Valencia 1-4.

One mate of ex Wimbledon coach Egil Olsen has used statistical methods to make these probability distributions for home/draw/away in these four matches:

Valencia - Schalke: 41% - 26% - 33%
Rosenborg - Chelsea: 33% - 26% - 41%

Schalke - Rosenborg: 60% - 20% - 20%
Chelsea - Valencia: 50% - 30% - 20%

Statistically Rosenborg then have these chances:

59% : ending top two
38% : ending 3rd
3% : ending 4th

In other words we have a 97% chance playing either Champions League or UEFA Cup after christmas!

Draw is at par
A draw is kind of an objective on Wednesday. One point is enough to the secure the 3rd place and UEFA Cup. The question is whether the players are match fit, three weeks after the last match. Luckily several key players have been on international duties, and our November record at Lerkendal is quite good:

22.11.95: Rosenborg - Legia Warszawa 4-0
20.11.96: Rosenborg - IFK Göteborg 1-0
27.11.97: Rosenborg - Real Madrid 2-0
25.11.98: Rosenborg - Athletic Bilbao 2-1
24.11.99: Rosenborg - Bayern München 1-1
08.11.00: Rosenborg - Bayern München 1-1
23.10.01: Rosenborg - Celtic 2-0 (last home fixture)
12.12.02: Rosenborg - Lyon 1-1
29.10.03: Rosenborg - Red Star 0-0 (last home fixture)
24.11.04: Rosenborg - Panathinaikos 2-2
23.11.05: Rosenborg - Olympiakos 1-1

5-6-0 and 17-7 in goal difference is not bad a month after the league has finished.

Let's hope this record holds!


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