Jon Dahl Tomasson is in charge of Malmö FF
Photo: ANDREAS L ERIKSSON / Bildbyran / imago images
Every year, when the Champions League starts its group phase, the sports editors look for the two or three clubs that do not seem to fit into the usual prey scheme of the premier class.
The clubs beyond Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and PSG.
In mid-September, that is the time before the first match day, when you can still describe the club portraits of the outsiders, at the latest with the knockout round, these teams have mostly disappeared from the competition.
And ManCitys and Real Madrid are among themselves again.
Jon Dahl Tomasson knows both sides.
As a player he was part of the Beletage, with AC Milan he was twice in the final of the Champions League, he won it once and lost it once.
"The biggest club in Scandinavia"
Now he's 45 years old, no longer a player, but a coach, and now he's one of the big underdogs.
He is the coach of Malmö FF.
The Swedes are a giant in their home country, Tomasson even says they are "the biggest club in Scandinavia", but what does that mean on a European scale?
Scandinavia has not been on the map of major clubs in Europe for a long time.
The last time Malmö qualified for the Champions League was in 2016, and when they did they mostly lost.
The last twelve games in Malmö's Champions League history were ten defeats.
The teams that have played at least ten Champions League games have such a bad record, otherwise only Rapid Vienna and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
64 goals in one season
Tomasson knows all these numbers, but he doesn't care about them, yesterday's news.
The coach prefers to point out that Malmö scored 64 goals in 30 games on the way to the championship last season.
The fact that Malmö scored 13 goals in qualifying for the premier class alone, that Glasgow Rangers and Ludogorets Razgrad were put out of the way.
Tomasson has always known how scoring goals works.
With 52 goals in the Danish national team, he still holds the national record, he wore the Danish national jersey 112 times, for years he was the captain of the Danes, 42 times he played in the Champions League with Newcastle United, Feyenoord Rotterdam and AC Milan under coach Carlo Ancelotti.
His guest appearance in the Bundesliga at VfB Stuttgart was one of the less laudable, but Tomasson is a football icon.
In the Netherlands, where he became champion and Uefa Cup winner with Feyenoord, almost as much as in his native Denmark.
Now he is working on earning this status in Sweden as well.
FF had waited three years for the championship title in Sweden, which is a small eternity for the club's standards, then Tomasson took over the club in 2020, incidentally as the successor to the German Uwe Rösler.
At the end of the season, Malmö FF were nine points ahead of the second.
Juventus, Chelsea, Zenit
"I had a couple of great coaches in my career, Ancelotti, Manuel Pellegrini, Bert van Marwijk, Leo Beenhakker, I was inspired by all of them," Tomasson told the portal "Stats Perform".
Tomasson worked his way up as a coach, he was assistant coach in the Netherlands at Excelsior Rotterdam and Vitesse Arnheim, Excelsior was also his first position as head coach.
Most recently he assisted the Danish national team.
How much he really learned from the greats of the guild, his team can prove on Tuesday evening.
Then it’s up against Juventus Turin in the domestic Eleda Stadium in the Champions League (9 p.m., Stream: Dazn).
Juventus, Chelsea FC as defending champions, and Zenit Saint Petersburg, Malmö's role as likely fourth in the group is determined.
"These are big clubs, we have to be realistic," says the coach on the one hand.
And then there are sentences like: "We will live this fairy tale."
Even as captain in Denmark he was "a kind of coach, you have a special responsibility, you start to think about the game differently," he says.
He also refers to his biography as a professional in the Dutch honor division.
Kader is still young
"Holland is a country that loves to develop young footballers".
His former coach Foppe de Haan often took him to football games to watch them in the stands: "He made me analyze games early on."
Tomasson has plenty of opportunities at Malmö to develop young players.
15 players in the squad are 25 years or younger, the top performers include 22-year-old Serbian Veljiko Birmancevic and 23-year-old Bosnian Anel Ahmedhodzic.
Then there is the goal scorer Antonio Colak.
The Croat, who was born in Ludwigsburg and spent his professional years at 1899 Hoffenheim and 1. FC Nürnberg, is experiencing a second spring in Sweden at the age of 30.
Colak scored five times in qualifying alone.
But that's no wonder: when it comes to scoring goals, he currently has the best teacher.