For a club from a city of 32,000 people, Molde FK have made a fair few ripples in both Norwegian and European football.

The club which has had the likes of Erling Haaland and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on the books - the latter also as manager - have reached the group stages of the Champions League and Europa League multiple times previously and are well on course to win a fifth domestic league title.

This Thursday, they provide daunting opposition for Shamrock Rovers although Erling Moe's side are, like the Hoops, still to pick up a win in the Europa Conference League group after the opening two games.

However, as a Pot 2 side and playing at the 11,000-seater Aker Stadion, Molde will be favourites against Stephen Bradley's outfit.

Their past four meetings against League of Ireland sides have all ended in wins for the Norwegian club and former Dundalk and Sligo Rovers goalkeeper Gary Rogers was on the pitch for all of those occasions as he recalled when he joined us on this week's RTÉ Soccer Podcast.

The first tie was during Solskjaer's tenure when Sligo lost 3-0 over two legs in the 2013-14 Champions League qualifiers, while Dundalk lost both group games in the Europa League two years ago.

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"I've been on the end of a couple of poor results against Molde," Rogers quipped.

"Look, they're a very good side and it's a terrific stadium over there. The first time I played over there, it was a grass pitch and the last time I played there it was an astro.

"We look at astros over here and talk about how poor they are, but the one over there is completely different to what you play on here.

"Obviously, they have a proper sprinkler system in it and the pellets on the pitch are round so the ball actually moves a lot quicker and sharper. It's watered properly."

Rogers said he felt that when the draw for the group stage was made that Molde would prove to be Rovers' toughest opponents in comparison to the Gent side which beat them 3-0 in Belgium before the international break and the Djurgardens side who they drew with in Tallaght in the opener.

Captain Magnus Wolff Eikrem, who was first brought back to his hometown and boyhood club by his former Manchester United reserves manager Solskjaer, before returning for a third spell in 2018 has been one of the key players in the Molde squad. Eikrem recently returned to action for his club after the passing of his partner following a long illness.

Magnus Wolff Eikrem scored against Dundalk in December 2020

"Wolff Eikrem is a serious technician. What a player he is and they've got to be very disciplined because he's got tremendous delivery as well and can cause serious problems with that," said Rogers of his memories of when Molde and Dundalk met.

"This guy is fantastic and he caused us all sorts of problems at set plays. They had 13 or 14 corners and they all looked dangerous.

"Our set-up at the time, we were all over the place in terms of a zonal defence and (we) didn't like it at all."

Thus, Rogers believes Shamrock Rovers need to be "more solid" and "more difficult to beat" than when they went to Gent against a Molde side that also play a three-at-the-back.

"I just felt they were a little bit too easy to get at (in Belgium). The gaps and lines between the midfield and back three and full-backs were a little bit too wide. You've got to tighten that up," he explained, adding that more variation from kick-outs would also be beneficial.

But creativity will also be vital for Rovers and although they are yet to score in the group, chances have been forged in the games against Gent and Djurgardens and Rogers expects them to have more opportunities at Molde.

He pointed to Jack Byrne as a player who can rise to the occasion, citing the example of former midfield maverick Joseph N'Do for Sligo in past European campaigns.

"When Joseph N'Do played for Sligo, he was terrific in Europe because he had that courage to get on the ball and in European football you need your better technical players to come and get that ball and take it into areas and be brave on it and just to keep it because you get your breather with the ball," said Rogers.

"Shamrock Rovers with Jack, he played really well at the weekend against Sligo and was terrific in the build-up for Dylan Watts' goal. Players like that are going to be massively important."

Watch Shamrock Rovers v Shelbourne in the SSE Airtricity League on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player on Sunday from 4.45pm.

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