Following Rangers entry into the Champions League qualifying third round draw, it looks likely that their opponents will be Swedish side Malmö FF. Although the Scandinavians still face a second leg trip to face Faroe Islands side Tórshavn, their 2-0 first leg victory should be enough to carry them through – and if there is a surprise, a profile of the Islanders side will emerge next week!
The club were founded in 1910, and have won 16 league championships – and are the current holders of the Swedish ‘Allsvenskan’. In addition to this they have also won the Swedish cup 14 times, and were runners up in the European Cup final of 1979, losing to Nottingham Forest.
They now play at the impressive Swedbank Stadion, opened in 2009, which has a capacity of 24,500.
Notable former players include Bo Larsson, Martin Dahlin, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Jari Litmanen and even former Rangers stars Jonas Thern and Robert Prytz – the latter moving to Ibrox directly from Malmö. Current West Bromich Albion manager Roy Hodgson also managed the club during the 1980s, and won the Swedish title on two occasions whilst at the helm.
The current side doesn’t boast quite so many recognisable names, but the club captain is the experienced Daniel Andersson, who was capped 74 times by Sweden before international retirement. He was part of their squads for the European Championships in 2000 and 2008, and also the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups.
Rangers will also have to be aware of a name that has haunted them many times in the past, although Daniel Larsson doesn’t quite hold the same prestige as a certain former Celtic player. But he is now a full Swedish international, appearing 5 times for his country, and the 24-year-old striker was a key part of the title winning team last season, scoring on 10 occasions and also racking up 10 assists – more than anyone else in the league. His form alerted Birmingham City last year, who had been showing some interest in bringing the attacker to St Andrews.
The Swedish season runs from April to October, so the club are currently midway through their competitive campaign – although they have been struggling so far this season, currently sitting in 8th place.
Ties will be played on July 26/27 and August 2/3.