Last week I wrote about Malmö FF, their upcoming qualifier vs Celtic, and how they are still producing some very good underlying numbers, potentially even better than last season, despite the fact that they are currently in fifth place in the Swedish Allsvenskan.
I also mentioned how Malmös squad today is completely different from the one that managed to qualify for the Champions League a year ago, but that they´ve managed to make some impressive signings to make up for all the losses they suffered during the winter and summer transfer windows. Heading into tonights first round qualifier at Celtic Park, however, Malmö will be missing two vital components that was actually part of the Champions League adventure last season as well, due to suspensions.
The Ghanaian centre midfielder Enoch Adu has been on the receiving end of some critique from coach Åge Hareide this season, but despite that he has played over 73% of the available playing time in Allsvenskan this season and played every single minute of the Champions League group stage last season. The job of replacing Adu in the starting eleven will likely be given to 19 year old Erdal Rakip, who has racked up only 721 minutes of playing time out of the possible 1800 in Allsvenskan this season, and is a somewhat different player type compared to the very physical Adu, whose presence in midfield will be missed against a tough Celtic side.
An even bigger loss might be the abscence of captain Markus Rosenberg, who played a massive part in getting Malmö into this final qualifying round at all, putting up a fantastic display in the 3-0 win against Salzburg, and has played 92% of the available playing time in Allsvenskan this season.
Rosenberg had an insanely good season in 2014 contributing to over 1.1 goals per 90 mins played, split equally between goals and assists, but as far as points goes, he hasn´t been anywhere near those standards in 2015. In fact, when adjusting for minutes played, Rosenberg has provided fewer points than six other Malmö players, although it should be noted that four out of these six players (Djuricic, Rodic, Cibicki and Mehmeti) have played less than 450 minutes of Allsvenskan football in 2015. Thus far in 2015, Rosenberg has provided 0.33 Non Penalty goals per 90 minutes and 0.11 Assists per 90 minutes, compared to 0.55 NPG and 0.55 Ass90 in 2014.
What will be missed the most isn´t necessarily Rosenbergs production, but rather his leadership qualities. To anyone who has been watching Malmö in their biggest games, it is clear to see that Rosenberg has been in a league of his own and has led by great example by working tireslessly and engaging the crowd as well as his fellow players. In a game where Malmö might have to do a lot of defending, Rosenbergs ability to hold up play, disturb the rhytm of the game and simply annoy the crap out of his opponents while simultaneously being an attacking threat will be dearly missed.
Let´s finish things of with a few words on Malmös latest attacking acquisitions, Nikola Djurdjic and Vladimir Rodic. As the chart above shows, they are the players with the highest scoring contribution per 90 minutes played in Malmös squad in 2015. However, this information comes with the major, major caveat that neither have played that much football, as they arrived in Malmö during the summer transfer window. Rodic has played 403 minutes in Allsvenskan and Djurdjic 320 minutes, meaning they could just be on a hot streak. With that said, they have both been of to flying starts, both scoring against Salzburg in the 3-0 victory at Swedbank Stadion as well as in Allsvenskan. Djurdjic (on loan from Bundesliga club Augsburg) and Rodic (who supposedly rejected Atletico Madrid to go Malmö) might turn out to be unpleasant surprises to any Celtic fans that haven´t done their homework!