The Swedish Side That Made Ibrahimovic

With the Champions League in full-swing and Europe's elite preparing to lock horns again for another round of thrills and spills, there are of course some teams who enter the fray through the side entrance: unknown, timid and a tad inconspicuous. George Rinaldi returns with a rundown to make sure you are up to scratch with your Bulgarian lingo, your Slovakian half-time snack and your dark horse player to get you those bonus fantasy league points!

A closer look at Swedish side Malmo

Name: Malmo FF (The FF stands for Fotbollforening or in English – Football Association)

Nickname: Di Blae (The Blues)

Founded: 1910

Country: Sweden

Stadium: Swedbank Stadion – 24,000 capacity

The one to tune in for: (A) Atletico Madrid (October 22nd 2014)

Manager: Age Hareide

stadium image

The Lowdown

Due to Sweden’s rather odd league structure, the Allsvenskan (where Malmo play) began on March 30th and will end on November 1st. The Sky Blues, as they are also known, are currently topping the table, like they did in their previous league campaign. They have already been crowned champions for this season as they are 12 points clear of nearest rivals IFK Goteborg with three games remaining. They’ll enter the second round of the Champions League qualifying system again for 2015-16 due to this success.

How did they get here?

Their accomplishments in their most recent season, including winning the Allsvenskan, meant Malmo qualified for the Champions League, getting to the group stages with some battling second-leg fight-backs. They have a habit of making comebacks so it is often a painful process for The Blues and their support!

They entered into the second round of qualifying and drew FK Ventspils. After edging out the 2013 Latvian Champions by a single goal in the second leg, it was the Czechs who would pose the next threat.

Sparta Prague were the opposition and despite leading 2-1 at half-time, Malmo went down to a 4-2 loss. There may have not been Ludogorets’ Cosmin Moti heroics to turn the game around but a comfortable 2-0 victory back at the Swedbank Stadion meant Hareide’s team progressed on away goals.

The turnaround in the second leg was something Malmo would do again. Having drawn Austria Wein in the big play-off game and losing the initial leg 2-1 in Austria, Malmo managed a 3-0 victory in sunny Sweden, meaning they entered the Group Stages for the first time in their entire history.

Who will they meet?

The Swedes will face Scudetto winners Juventus and last season’s Champions League runners up, Atletico Madrid.

Tough? Yes. Impossible? No.

Looking back on last season’s heroics from Galatasaray who toppled Juventus on the final group day proved that the ‘minnows’ of the competition can cause an upset. The complete inconsistency of any team so far in this group has blown it wide open, with each of the four clubs currently sitting on three points.

Despite the fact the Italian and Spanish sides are expected to take the top two spots does not mean it is nailed on and both Malmo and Olympiakos will be sniffing around the second place slot. If Hareide’s men can come through the Atletico game unscathed on the 22nd they’ll be in with a chance of sneaking through. At the very least they’ll be expecting a third place finish allowing them entry into the Europa League knockout fixtures.

Tuesday         16/09/14         Juventus 2-0  Malmo

Wednesday   1/10/14           Malmo 2-0 Olympiakos

Wednesday   22/10/14         Atletico Madrid v Malmo

Tuesday         04/11/14         Malmo v Atletico Madrid

Wednesday   26/11/14         Malmo v Juventus

Tuesday         9/12/14           Olympiakos v Malmo

Swedish chant to yell at the TV

Hoppa om ni alskar Malmo FF! Hoppa om ni alskar Malmo FF!

(Roughly translates this Malmo chant to ‘Jump if you love Malmo!’)

Half time snack – Princesstarta (Princess Cake)

A small layer of green marzipan is topped with a pink rose hiding fluffy cream that rests on top of #fruit, custard and of course sponge cake. Apparently it’s available at IKEA if you want to try it out.

Player for your UCL Fantasy Team

If a back-up keeper is what you’re after, look no further than Robin Olsen. Selected by just 0.2% of people, you’d be the hipster of the UCL Fantasy League. The man between the sticks has already amassed 11 points, more than Thibaut Courtois, Joe Hart and Iker Casillas who are all your main starter keepers. Give Olsen a chance and reap the rewards.

Get the latest UEFA line-ups, stats & news on the HTC FootballFeedapp here – available for free on Google Play

Read more from George Rinaldi here!

Follow @GeorgeRinaldi

 

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