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Champions League team guide: Malmo in the spotlight
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Former European Cup finalists Malmo are back in the Champions League group stage
Former European Cup finalists Malmo are back in the Champions League group stage

Malmo finished top of Sweden’s Allsvenskan to secure a place in the Champions League’s first qualifying round.

Di Blae beat Latvian champions Riga 2-1 on aggregate at that stage before knocking out Finnish side HJK 4-3 in the second round.

Malmo took on Scottish champions Rangers in the third qualifying round, winning 2-1 in Malmo and again in Glasgow by the same scoreline – Antonio Colak hitting the net twice in the space of four minutes to seal victory.

They then won the first leg of the play-off round 2-0 against Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets, which was enough to see Jon Dahl Tomasson’s team through to the group stage despite a 2-1 second-leg defeat.

Malmo's Champions League group

Group H: Chelsea, Juventus, Zenit, Malmo

European history

Malmo famously reached the European Cup final in 1978-79 under English manager Bob Houghton.

They beat Monaco, Dynamo Kyiv, Wisla Krakow and Austria Wien en route to the final in Munich, where they lost 1-0 to Nottingham Forest — Britain’s first £1million footballer Trevor Francis scoring the only goal of the game.

They remain the only side from Scandinavia to ever reach the European Cup or Champions League final.

Malmo also played in the Intercontinental Cup that year after Forest turned down the chance to play in the final but Di Blae lost 3-1 on aggregate to Paraguay’s Club Olympia.

The furthest Malmo have progressed in European football since then is the quarter-final stage of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1974-75 and 1986-87.

The last time they reached the Champions League group stage was in 2015-16, when the Swedish outfit finished fourth in a group featuring Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Manager Jon Dahl Tomasson enjoyed an impressive first season in charge of Malmo
Manager Jon Dahl Tomasson enjoyed an impressive first season in charge of Malmo

Expectations

Despite Malmo’s successes in the past, their record since the Champions League format was introduced suggests they will struggle this year.

This is only the third time they have reached the Champions League group stage, and on both previous occasions Di Blae finished bottom of the pile.

They won just one game each in those two seasons, and with Chelsea, Juventus and Zenit in their group this year, finishing higher than fourth would be a real achievement.

Star man: Antonio Colak

POAK loanee Antonio Colak has hit the ground running in Sweden
POAK loanee Antonio Colak has hit the ground running in Sweden

Antonio Colak has enjoyed a fantastic start to life with Malmo.

The forward, who is on loan from Greek side PAOK, has scored eight goals and contributed two assists in just 13 league appearances this season — and that is before you even factor in his five strikes in Champions League qualification.

He signed for PAOK after scoring more than a goal every other game for Croatian side Rijeka, having spent most of his career in Germany.

Colak, 27, made his international debut for Croatia against Turkey in November last year and will surely earn plenty more caps if he maintains his impressive goalscoring form.

One to watch: Anel Ahmedhodzic

Malmo's Bosnian defender Anel Ahmedhodzic has been a force at the back for the Swedish champions
Malmo's Bosnian defender Anel Ahmedhodzic has been a force at the back for the Swedish champions

Centre-back Anel Ahmedhodzic has been almost ever-present in Malmo’s defence over the past season and a half.

He started his youth career at the club before joining Nottingham Forest, but only played briefly in one senior match against Newcastle before returning to Sweden.

Malmo then loaned him to Danish side Hobro where he played 19 Superliga matches in 2019.

Just 22 years old, he is already a regular international for Bosnia and Herzegovina, having made his debut in October last year.

Ahmedhodzic represented Sweden at youth level and even played in a friendly match against Moldova before choosing to represent the Dragons.

The boss: Jon Dahl Tomasson

Jon Dahl Tomasson is still in the early years of his managerial career but he won the Champions League as a player with Milan, as well as the UEFA Cup with Feyenoord.

The 45-year-old got his first managerial experience in the Netherlands at Excelsior and Roda JC, from 2013-2014.

He later worked as an assistant manager for the Denmark national team, before getting the job at Malmo at the start of 2020.

In his first year at the Eleda Stadion, the club won the Allsvenskan for the first time since 2017 and Tomasson will be looking to further prove his coaching credentials in this season’s Champions League.

All information correct as of 10am, September 14, 2021

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