Following a surprise win against Ajax, Rosenborg qualify for the Europa League for the second time in three seasons.
Rosenborg’s season will extend to at least December as the Trondheim club have qualified for the group stages of the 2017/18 Europa League. The champions of Norway missed out on a Champions League place with defeat to Celtic, but a play-off win against the Dutch giants Ajax gives them a place in Europe’s second tier tournament.
Not that long ago Rosenborg were a big name in European football. The team appeared regularly appeared in the European Cup and Champions League, reaching as far as the quarter-finals in the 1996-97 season. But lots has changed since those days and now a place in the Europa League is seen as a success in itself.
Their opponents in the group stage will be Zenit from Russia, Real Sociedad from Spain, and Vardar from the Macedonian capital Skopje. All teams will play each other in a mini-league format home and away, with the top two qualifying for the knockout phases. The final to be held at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in the south of France is scheduled for 16 May, 2018.
But talk of the final is more than premature. Rosenborg’s last appearance in the Europa League didn’t go according to plan. The team ended the group stage winless against Lazio, Saint Etienne, and Dnipro. This time around, the schedule means Rosenborg welcome Real Sociedad to Lerkendal Stadion at the end of November, not exactly a time of year that the Spaniards will be looking forward to a trip to Trondheim.
A focus on Europe?
With Rosenborg chasing European glory, their domestic title rivals will be hoping to take advantage. Although leading the Eliteserien table by six points, ten games remain and Kåre Ingebrigtsen’s side have already been dumped out of the Norwegian Cup by Vålerenga and suffered a home league defeat by Haugesund in recent weeks.
The home games are scheduled for 28 September (Vardar), 2 November (Zenit) and 23 November (Real Sociedad). Football fans in Trondheim can catch all three group games at Lerkendal Stadion thanks to a package deal offered by the club. At the time of writing, these three-game packages are available at a cost of 625kr-1,225kr, with a discount available for season ticket holders.