Here we are again as Dundalk get set for their latest jaunt at the Europa League group stages – and who is it they face? It’s a certain Norwegian side best-known for producing a current Premier League manager in Molde FK…
Molde are the current Norwegian top-flight champions and are the former club of current Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
So, let’s get down to basics – who exactly are Molde, and what exactly can Dundalk expect to come up against at Tallaght Stadium on Thursday evening?
Who are Molde FK?
Currently managed by Erling Moe, Molde FK are the reigning Norwegian top-flight champions after winning the Eliteserien during the 2019 campaign.
They won the league title – their fourth since 2011 – with a fourteen-point gap over Bodo-Glimt who eventually came in second position.
The club were founded initially in 1911, albeit in a different name in International before renaming to Molde FK in 1915.
They have won the Norwegian Cup a grand total of four times (in 1994, 2005, 2013 and 2014) and have won the Norwegian top-flight the same number of times (in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2019).
The club currently ply their trade out of the 11,249-seater Aker Stadion – a ground that was officially opened in late 1990s.
As per the club’s website, the club had a turnover of 116.4m kroner while operating at a profit of 576,893 kroner.
In Euro, their turnover from 2015 comes back as just over 10m Euro, while the operating profit comes back at just over 50,000 Euro.
The club are also part of an elite club in Norway, being one of just two who have reached the group stages of the Champions League, something no League of Ireland club has achieved.
What European pedigree do they have?
As mentioned in the line above, FK Molde are one of just two Norwegian clubs to have reached the Champions League group stages.
While in the Champions League group stages, Molde have come up against the likes of Real Madrid, Olympiakos and FC Porto.
They most recently reached the group stages of the Europa League in the 2015-16 season, rubbing shoulders against the likes of Dutch giants Ajax, Celtic, Standard Liege and Turkish side Fenerbahçe.
They also have played League of Ireland opposition in European competition before – against none other than Sligo Rovers in 2013.
The Bit O’Red welcomed Molde to the Showgrounds for their first ever Champions League night – but they fell to a one-nil defeat.
The second-leg saw the Bit O’Red lose two-nil away from home as Molde ran out three-nil aggregate winners.
Who will League of Ireland fans recognise?
In truth, there are not too many familiar faces that League of Ireland fans may recognise within the FK Molde side.
However, for those with a fondness of the Premier League and English football, they do have former Cardiff City winger Magnus Wolff Eikrem within their ranks.
Wolff-Eikrem is a 17-time Norwegian international and is the FK Molde club captain at the age of 30 years.
Goalkeeper Andreas Linde is a one-time Swedish international and has also played for Finnish side Helsingborg.
25-year-old winger Eirik Hestad is one to watch and has scored four goals in his 20 league appearances during the 2020 campaign thus far.
However, they do have injury worries heading into their clash against Dundalk, with Leke James missing out via a muscle injury he picked up in their Champions League playoff defeat against Ferencvaros.