MALMO are a young, vibrant team who try to play passing football and will offer a stern test of Hibs’ credentials, writes Mark Atkinson.
Their team is littered with a number of hot prospects who are expected to be sold on to bigger European clubs once the Swedish league ends. In some ways, they resemble the young Slovenian side Maribor that Hibs lost to in 2010.
Their goalkeeper, however, is one of their more experienced players. Johan Dahlin (no relation to former Blackburn and Sweden striker Martin Dahlin) is a 27-year-old Swedish internationalist with good reflexes and a commanding presence in the air.
Malmo’s left-back is Brazilian Ricardinho, who, as his name suggests, likes to get forward. Right-back Miiko Albornoz is also one who likes to contribute in attack and they can leave the centre-half pairing of Pontus Jansson and Filip Helander a little exposed. Jansson, a 22-year-old star of the Sweden Under-21 team, is expected to move to Parma in Serie A. He is strong in the air, fast and likes to pass the ball out of defence.
Left-sided midfielder Jiloan Hamad is the captain of the side and, at 22 years old, emphasises the youthful nature of Malmo. He has been capped by Sweden and is the cultured playmaker of the team. Right-winger Emil Forsberg is only 21, yet he is seen as a future Sweden internationalist and is quick.
Markus Halsti, a Finnish internationalist, is the link man between defence and midfield and he should partner Sweden cap Simon Thern, pictured, the son of former Rangers player Jonas Thern. He may well wear a protective cast on his hand tomorrow after injuring it on Sunday.
In attack, Hibs must be wary of the lightning-fast Tokelo Rantie, a South African internationalist, who is the most skilful player in the side. He links well with 23-year-old target-man Magnus Eriksson, who was signed recently from Gent in Belgium and scored twice at the weekend.
Hibs will have to be at their very best if they are to quell a dangerous Malmo side.