Glasgow City’s Champions League last-16, first-leg tie against Brondby in Copenhagen tonight will revive memories for Scotland’s most capped outfield player, Jo Love. Her first ever European game, way back in 2003, was against the Danes at the same venue.
Then, the teenage Love was a member of a Kilmarnock side – Scotland head coach Shelley Kerr was another – which had won the Scottish title the previous season. They lost 2-0 against Brondby in the opening game of their Uefa Women’s Cup qualifying group, and fared little better against the champions of Serbia and Iceland, finishing bottom with just one point.
“When we played Brondby they were one of the top teams in Europe,” recalled Love, who managed to get herself into a picture with Brian and Michael Laudrup. “To come away with a 2-0 defeat from that game was a real achievement from us.
“Fitness was probably the biggest difference at the time. We had good technical players who could maybe compete if they were playing walking football!”
The joke, Love admits, does a disservice to a talented Kilmarnock side, but at the time clubs from Scandanavia were streets ahead of most of their European competitors in terms of professionalism and taking women’s football seriously.
Brondby twice reached the semi-finals of the Uefa Women’s Cup, and did so again in 2014-15 after it was rebranded the Champions League. In each of the three seasons the team that beat them went on to lift the trophy – including Arsenal in 2006-07.
Tonight, having joined Glasgow City from Celtic in 2011, midfielder Love expects a more even playing field at Brondby Stadium. Her side have dominated Scottish football for 13 seasons and have reached the last 16 for a second successive time. A win over the two legs would repeat their quarter-final achievement of 2014-15.
“Brondby are very good, and like to keep possession with one and two-touch football,” Love, now 33 and with 191 Scotland caps, said after her side had arrived in Copenhagen yesterday.
“They cut through the lines and there’s no denying we’re going to be in for a hard game.
“I do think that sometimes we punch above our weight in these games. If we can continue to fly the flag for Scottish football and push it on I’m more than happy to do that.
“To have a Scottish team in the last 16 is a great achievement – again.”
As the seeded side, and with their European achievements, Brondby will be favourites to go through. Nevertheless, drawing them in the last 16 was a great outcome for the Scottish champions. “We were always going to get a top side – but they’re not a top four or five side, that’s clear,” pointed out head coach Scott Booth, pictured inset.
The Danes are strongest going forward with 30-year-old midfielder Nanna Christiansen one of the biggest dangers. She has over 100 caps and Booth said: “She’s incredibly technical and a very good player. She’s the attacking cement in between all their bricks.”
The return is at Petershill Park on 31 October.