by Aleks V | @aleksvee
The fourth edition of The Atlantic Cup kicks off on Friday, January 30 at Algarve, Portugal with reigning champions FC Copenhagen playing Europa League contenders Dynamo Moscow. The tournament, organized by former Sweden and Arsenal midfielder Stefan Schwarz along with ex-Millwall keeper Brian Horne, attracts teams whose domestic tournaments are on pre- or mid-season break during the winter months, providing a chance to get some valuable playing time in a competitive environment. Eight teams from four countries, including two previous winners, will vie for the trophy. This year's Atlantic Cup is the second to feature a team from the Russian Premier League. Dynamo Moscow come off a victorious UEL group stage run, and are the only participating club currently vying for a European Cup. Spartak Moscow finished in 3rd place last year, winning two of their three games and losing 5:0 to the eventual champions.
Unlike last year's tournament, the 2015 Atlantic Cup will feature a group stage and a final contested by the group winners. FC Copehagen won the 2014 Altantic Cup on goal difference after both the Danish side and Swedish runners-up Orebro SK finished with 9 points after 3 games. The Danes did not concede any goals.
Coverage will be provided by TV3 SPORT.
Dynamo Moscow vs Copenhagen
30 January 2015 | KO 20:00 GMT (3:00pm EST)
30 January 2015 | KO 20:00 GMT (3:00pm EST)
3 Danish: FC Copenhagen, Brondby IF, FC Midtjylland
2 Swedish: IFK Goteborg, Orebro SK
2 Czech: Mlada Boleslav, Baumit Jablonec
1 Russian: FC Dynamo Moscow
FC Copenhagen & FC Midtjylland. With 3 appearances, the latter are Atlantic Cup vets.
Players to Watch
Mathieu Valbuena (Dynamo Moscow)
Valbuena is a set piece master whose dribbling skills make him instrumental to the team's attacks.
Claim to Fame: Excelled with the French national team in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals.
Christian Poulsen (Copenhagen)
A seasoned vet, the 34-year-old defensive midfielder has played for such teams as Schalke 04, Liverpool and Ajax.
Claim to Fame: Poulsen made over 100 appearances for Schalke and won the UEFA Cup (Europa League) with Sevilla. His performances for the Danish national team earned him the Danish Football Player of the Year award on two occasions. Fans may recall his involvement in several controversies in major tournaments (see: Euro 2004 and 2008, 2005-06 Champions League).
Daniel Agger (Brondby IF)
The Danish centre back left Liverpool at the end of last August after a falling out with manager Brendan Rodgers, returning to the club where he began his professional career.
Claim to Fame: Champions League runner-up and Football League Cup winner with Liverpool. Agger's first goal for Liverpool was named Goal of the Month in August 2006.
Lasse Vibe (IFK Goteborg)
A consistent goal-scoring forward and winger, Vibe netted in 33 goals and made 16 assists in 53 appearances for Goteborg. The 27-year-old signed for Goteborg, his first club outside of Denmark, in 2013. He has 6 caps and 1 goal for the Danish national team.
Claim to Fame: Last season's Allsvenskan (Swedish Premier League) top-scorer (23 goals).
Igor Subbotin (Mlada Boleslav)
Subbotin tallied up an impressive 72 goals and 29 assists in 187 appearances for his hometown club Levadia Tallinn. The 24-year-old Estonian right winger signed for Mlada Boleslav on Jan. 15, 2015 as a free agent and has yet to debut for his new club.
Tomas Hubschman (FK Jablonec)
Before wearing the captain's armband for Jablonec, Hubschmann spent a decade at Shakhtar Donetsk, making 258 appearances in all competitions. The defensive midfielder was on loan at Jablonec in the early 2000s, and returned to sign a permanent deal last year.
Claim to Fame: UEFA Cup (Europa League) winner with Shakhtar in 2009 and tons of silverware in domestic competitions - 8 UPL titles, 4 domestic Cups, and 4 Super Cups.
Sylvester 'Sly' Igboun (FC Midtjylland)
The Nigerian winger/centre forward has so far been a one-club man, scoring 45 goals and making 25 assists in 149 appearances for Midtjylland. Despite reports linking him with bigger clubs in 2013, Sly has stayed on for the Danish side.
Claim to Fame: One-club man; hat-trick in a 5-4 victory against Werder Bremen.
Oscar Jansson (Orebro SK)
The 24-year-old shot-stopper spent part of his youth career at Tottenham Hotspur, but didn't get a shot to debut for the senior team, having loan spells with 5 different clubs before signing on permanently with Shamrock Rovers. While on loan at Northampton Town, he earned some praise from manager Ian Sampson for stepping in for an injured Chris Dunn. At Orebro, Jansson conceded 53 goals and kept 18 clean sheets in 55 appearances.
Group Stage: 2 groups of 4 teams. Each team plays two fixtures within their group.
The group winners play each other in the 'final', with the winner receiving the Atlantic Cup.
The remaining teams play each other as follows: 2nd place vs 2nd place, 3rd vs 3rd and 4th vs 4th.
Excluding the final, no two teams from the same country can play each other.
If tied after 90 minutes, the winner is decided via a penalty shootout.
The winner of the shootout gets 1 extra point.
Group Stage Tiebreakers
a. goal difference
b. highest number of goals scored
c. fewest goals conceded
d. highest no. of points in head-to-head games
e. a coin toss