The Battle Of Scandinavia: Why 'The Bridge Derby' Runs So Deep

Copenhagen and Malmo go head-to-head in the Europa League on Thursday
15:34, 12 Dec 2019

Two teams, two nations, one local derby. 

Local?! Two nations? Yep, and it’s fierce too. It’s ‘The Bridge derby’.

Copenhagen of Denmark take on Malmo of Sweden in the Europa League on Thursday evening and it’s set to be explosive.

The Danish capital and the largest city in the Swedish county of Skane are separated only by a 30-minute train ride across the Oresund Bridge, and fans of popular BBC Two drama ‘The Bridge’ will be aware of the close proximity between the two clubs.

Top spot is at stake as first host second in Group B, but so too are bragging rights.

Copenhagen are the most successful club in Scandanivian history and Malmo want to knock them off their perch, with the sides finally able to go head-to-head in continental competition.

However, it goes a little deeper than that.


Asked by The Sportsman just how far back the rivalry goes, football journalist Frida Fagerlund, who writes for Swedish newspaper Sportbladet, told us: “That depends on who you’re asking. The Malmo fans have far more hard feelings towards Copenhagen than the other way around. 

“Some of it has to do with the fact that Copenhagen is the biggest club in Scandinavia, a label Malmo really want to put their hands on. 

“However, there is also an infected history between these two clubs going back to the 2005 Royal League clash in Copenhagen when Danish police were reckless towards the away fans. That night has always stayed with Malmö FF and certainly increased the fire.

“There was an explosion when the draw was made, an emotional one at least! The whole city of Malmö would like to finally get their revenge.”

The two teams do not meet often; before this season’s clash in Malmo, they had not met since that incident 14 years ago.

Peculiarly, despite their own league pursuits, Malmo supporters feel more of a rivalry with Copenhagen than with teams from the same nation.

“Copenhagen fans would say it’s more important to win the derbys against Brondby,” explains Fagerlund.

“Since Malmo don’t have a local rival in the same way (most of the other big clubs in Sweden are either in the Stockholm or Gothenburg area) they focus a bit more on Copenhagen instead.”

While a channel of water separates these Nordic rivals, you may be surprised to know fans will often see each other in person and share banter about their respective sides’ fortunes. And, if you’re wondering, no you don’t need a passport to travel between the two.

“It’s very common for southern Swedes to work in Denmark, which means they cross the bridge on a daily basis.

“It’s actually not uncommon to hear more Swedish than Danish at Copenhagen Airport, for example.”

While it may be Copenhagen against Malmo, Fagerlund insists it does not go further than that, with fans of other Swedish clubs unlikely to rejoice should Malmo get a result.

However, every football fan will surely rejoice if Markus Rosenborg is able to cap an incredible story in his final ever game for the club.

The Malmo legend scored in the very last minute of his very last home game back in November as the Swedes fought back to beat Dynamo Kiev 4-3. The hero then, he has the chance to write one more chapter into the club’s folklore.

“Since it’s Markus Rosenberg’s last game in the Malmo shirt every away fan will definitely be on point,” adds Fagerlund. 

“He’s the biggest club icon in modern times – way bigger than Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The tifo against Dynamo Kiev at Swedbank Stadion was pure world class.”

Bigger than Zlatan?

The battle of Scandanavia and the Europa League’s very own derby clash. We can’t wait.

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