Malmo vs Real Madrid by Sweem
Champions League is coming to Sweden for the second consecutive year and the reason for that is spelled Malmo FF - who have somewhat put Sweden on the map when it comes to club football. Obviously the Swedes will be massive underdogs in every match they participate in, but can the well known home advantage make wonders? Real Madrid will arrive to a chilly Sweden to grab three points - at least that is the plan.
The Spanish giants easily discarded Shakthar Donetsk in the opening night with convincing numbers which were finally written 4-0. With a tremendous offensive ability, this team needs to introduction as they can always field a very competitive team. A visit to Sweden, to play a relatively unknown team like Malmo might not be the most motivating highlight in the players career, but the task must be solved. Not terribly long ago, Real Madrid had a similar task at their hands when they travelled to Bulgaria and played Ludogorets - it proved to be tricker than expected but still handled it with a 1-2 victory, which may not look impressive. Nevertheless, if there is something Champions League has taught us all, is that every team possess qualities and this is no difference. Real Madrid will arrive with the star players and on before hand it seems like only underestimation can harm them if they overlook this game as it is an easy opponent on paper. Since Real Madrid are a big team and already well known by the audience, let us take the sights to the opponents.
The Swedish side Malmo, have entered the tournament after knocking out Zalgiris, Salzburg and Celtic over two legs. Even though they were placed in a impossible group consisting of PSG, Real Madrid and Shakthar Donetsk - the team now possess valuable experience from last year. Malmo did actually face Spanish opposition when Atletico Madrid visited Sweden and won 0-2. Despite the loss, Malmo still speaks about that particular game as the best performance in years, mainly because they had more possession and shots than Atletico Madrid in that game but lacked finishing. Having that game on the back of their mind, the Malmo players does not shy away from making life difficult for well known teams. Out of all teams participating in Champions League, Malmo might be the team who are most dependant of home advantage. There atmosphere in Malmo has become more well known throughout Europe, particularly after the game versus Celtic where the team and stadium earned more respect. Can they harm Real Madrid though? We will get to that point later.
Malmo are very much a typical scandinavian team where physique and endurance are two key factors, and two strong forwards on top. Nikola Djurdjic and Markus Rosenberg are both physical strikers who likes to battle the balls in the air and win possession. They are coming from a 2-0 loss in Paris versus PSG which looks respectable on paper. To increase the offensive side, the wingers Vladimir Rodic and Jo Inge Berget are both technical can does not shy away from taking shots around the penalty area. The weakness is perhaps the speed of the central defenders, in particular the icelandic veteran Kari Arnason, who has tons of experience and usually positions himself perfectly but is not the quickest on the field. Malmo as a collective is a strong unit who rarely concedes goals at home in Europe. A trend to consider is that Malmo have a frightening home record in European qualification matches. In 12 games, Malmo are 8-4-0 with 19-1 in goal differential. This is excluding group stages, but still witness a bit of where the success is generating from. We can mention that only Juventus and Atletico Madrid have managed to defeat Malmo in Sweden in recent years when it comes to European football competitions. Real Madrid certainly belongs to that kind of class and should be able to discard the Swedes over ninety minutes.
Real Madrid might have seen their opposition on video when scouting them, but how much do they really know? How much are they aware of? There seems to be almost like a magical aura surrounding the city of Malmo when it is a Champions League night and miracles after miracles seem to happen. Let us return to the question - Can Malmo harm Real Madrid? Probably not. However, a blow out is not to be expected. This is a stingy team who will defend with nine or ten men. More importantly, the Swedes can run and take up the physical battle with Real Madrid. Overall, instead of expecting 0-4 or 0-5, I would like to think the game will be stingy and currently under 3.5 goals is very appealing. I personally believe Malmo can keep it tidy for one half, which should make this bet look promising for the rest of the game. Real Madrid have loads of fire power but I am not so certain that they will blast three or four past a disciplined team.