Humble Malmo not in awe of upper-crust Real

STOCKHOLM • When Swedish champions Malmo take on Real Madrid today, they do so knowing they would probably have to sell their entire squad just to be able to afford a single player from the bench of the Spanish giants.

Valued at around €20 million (S$31.8 million), the Malmo squad consist of home-produced players and low-budget signings.

Malmo did reach the 1979 European Cup final. Since then, however, the gulf between Europe's big leagues has grown so wide that it is almost impossible for a club of Malmo's limited means to survive beyond the group phase.

Yet, there will be no sense of inferiority as the 18-time Swedish champions welcome Real to Swedbank Stadion, even if their aim is to finish third in Group A and continue in the Europa League.

"No matter who they put in, it will be a world-famous star," captain Markus Rosenberg said.

"Nobody is counting on us to take points, but when we play offensively and get the crowd behind us, anything can happen."

Madrid put down an early Champions League marker with a 4-0 thrashing of Shakhtar Donetsk, following on from 5-0 and 6-0 La Liga wins against Real Betis and Espanyol respectively.

But Real managed only three goals in victories over Granada and Athletic Bilbao while a scoreless draw with Malaga on Saturday cost them top spot in La Liga.

Talisman Cristiano Ronaldo is aiming to end his goal drought at three games. The forward is two goals shy of matching Raul's 323-goal record as Madrid's top scorer of all time but team-mate Marcelo revealed that the mark is not Ronaldo's priority.

"He is not obsessed with beating records but rather he aims to help the team to win," the left-back told the club's website.

Malmo goalkeeper Johan Wiland, who kept Lionel Messi out when he played for FC Copenhagen against Barcelona in the Champions League in 2010, will be doing all he can to stop Ronaldo breaking that record.

Asked by newspaper Kvallsposten if Ronaldo was over-valued compared to his Malmo team-mates, Wiland said: "I'm not going to stand here and say that today; if I do, they'll smash in four on Wednesday."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2015, with the headline 'Humble Malmo not in awe of upper-crust Real'. Print Edition | Subscribe