The next seven days could all but secure European football for Shamrock Rovers in 2018.Sun, Sep 24 2017
As Dundalk prepare to kick off their Champions League campaign with a second round first leg at Oriel Park on Wednesday evening, we hit the beat and ask...
Who are Rosenborg BK?
Chances are, if you ask anybody to name a Norwegian football club, and they don't say Molde, chances are they'll say Rosenborg.
The so-called Troillongan ('troll children' – bit harsh) are far and away Norway's most successful side, having won the domestic title 24 times and 11 domestic cups.
To put that into context, the second most successful club team in Norway are Fredrikstad, who have won the league just nine times, who last won the title in 1961 and now play in the second tier.
Based on the northern city of Trondheim – the third or fourth biggest in Norway depending on what metric you use – they draw on a large surrounding scattered support akin to the reach of Juventus in Italy.
If Dundalk drawing BATE Borisov – Champions League group stage regulars and winners over the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona – was a nightmare scenario (and it was), then Rosenborg were BATE before BATE were BATE.
Like BATE, Rosenborg have taken advantage of being 'first movers,' making a breakthrough to the Champions League group stages in 1995-96 and using the financial advantages to build a team that would dominate the domestic league for years.
Rosenborg won the Eliteserien (then known as Tippeligaen) for 13 straight seasons and reached the Champions League groups eight years in a row from 1995-96 until 2003-04 (when they defeated Bohemians 5-0 before losing out to Deportivo of Spain).
They progressed beyond the group stages in only two of those eight seasons, but they reached the quarter-finals in 1996-97, losing 2-1 on aggregate to Juventus after drawing the first leg 1-1.
In total, Rosenborg have competed in the group stages of the Champions League 11 times – the only other club to manage the feat was Molde in 1999-2000 – and the Europa League groups twice.
They've claimed a number of notable scalps in Europe over the years, with victories over Milan, Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid to their names.
Somewhat notoriously, José Mourinho was dismissed for the first time as Chelsea manager following a 1-1 draw with the Norwegian side at Stamford Bridge in 2007.
Record against Irish clubs
In spite of – or perhaps because of – their all-conquering success in a small peripheral European league, Rosenborg have quite regularly come up against Irish clubs in recent years in European qualifying.
They've been drawn with League of Ireland opposition on three occasions in the past 20 years, twice in the Champions League and once in the Europa League, and advanced on each occasion.
They met Shelbourne in the second round of Champions League qualifying in 2000-01, defeating Dermot Keely's side 3-1 in the first leg at Tolka Park before drawing 1-1 at home.
Current Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny was in charge when Bohemians were drawn out of the hat at the same stage in 2003-04 and again Rosenborg won the first leg in Dublin, 1-0, before cruising to a 4-0 win in Trondheim.
Rosenborg's star had faded by the time they drew John Coleman's Sligo Rovers in the Europa League round two in 2014-15, and they looked to be headed out following a 2-1 defeat in the first leg in Trondheim, but they fought back to take the return leg 3-1.
Rosenborg are the defending champions, having won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016 (like the League of Ireland, the Norwegian league runs on a calendar year basis) after a five year dry spell.
This year hasn't gone entirely to plan, however, though Rosenborg still sit five points clear at the top of the table at the half-way point.
They've already lost almost as many games as they did last season (two, to last season's three) and drawn five compared to six last year, when they coasted to the title with a 14-point lead.
Manager Kare Ingebrigsten has been criticised for his rigid and inflexible, particularly when his side surrendered a 2-0 half-time lead and required a late equaliser to salvage a draw with relegation-threatened Kristiansund.
While their home form has been good – they've won easily, scoring at least three goals in each of their last three home games – their away form has been patchier and they were beaten 1-0 at midtable Haugesund last month.
Who will League of Ireland fans recognise?
Strangely, not many. Niklas Bendtner is the only widely-known member of the squad due to his exploits with Arsenal and Paddy Power, but beyond him there are few recognisable names.
Of the 11 that beat Sligo Rovers 3-1 at the Showgrounds three years ago this week, just three remain at the club: captain Mike Jensen, defender Tore Reginiussen and midfielder Pal André Helland.
Rosenborg have hoovered up many of the better talents from the Norwegian league in the past seasons but, curiously, none from either the Molde side that beat Sligo in 2013 or the Odds side that beat Shamrock Rovers two years ago.