FC Midtjylland: Celtic Champions League opponents, their former Hearts coach and how they fared against Rangers in 2019

Celtic have been drawn to play FC Midtjylland in the second Champions League qualifying round in what will be Ange Postecoglou’s first competitive match as manager in Glasgow.

Former Celtic defender Erik Sviatchenko is now at FC Midtjylland. (Picture: SNS/Alan Harvey)
Former Celtic defender Erik Sviatchenko is now at FC Midtjylland. (Picture: SNS/Alan Harvey)

His side will head to Denmark – rather than Rapid Vienna or Galatasaray who were the other alternatives in the draw – on July 27/28 after the home leg on July 20/21 .

The work starts in earnest in preparing for the crucial clash which has a lot of lucrative Champions League money riding upon it with potential qualification the end goal.

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Here’s what we know of the Danes.

The MCH Arena, Herning (SNS Group Alan Harvey)

Who are FC Midtjylland?

The Danish side, based in Herning, have spent 20 years in the Danish Superliga gradually building to success after being formed in 1999.

The club was created by a merger of two sides and In the last seven years they’ve missed out on a top three finish just once, and landed the title three times. Last season’s second placed finish to champions Brondby pits them into the same Champions League section as Celtic.

The club was formerly run by Matthew Benham, notable now as owner of English Premier League new boys Brentford and it established Denmark’s first club youth academy.

Erik Sviatchenko played for Midtjylland when they last visited Glasgow two years ago. (SNS Group Alan Harvey)

Scottish football links

Former Hearts caretaker manager, and Forfar Athletic player, Austin MacPhee is now on the coaching staff at the 12,000 capacity MCH Arena, assisting manager Bo Henriksen, after moving to the club in January.

One of FC Midtyjlland’s best known players to Scottish football fans is former Hoops defender Erik Sviatchenko who joined Celtic from the club in 2016 for £1.5m before returning two years later.

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Perhaps the most well-known former player and academy graduate is Simon Kjaer. He earned Midtjylland £4m when sold to Palermo and has played at various big-name clubs across Europe including Roma, Fenerbahce and Sevilla. The Denmark captain is currently starring in Euro 2020 and plays for AC Milan.

Midtjylland faced Rangers in the Europa League play-off of 2019-20.

Recent European form

Midtjylland have played in Europe 13 times across their 22 years in existence, and reached the last 32 of the Europa League in 2015-16 after dropping out of the Champions League third qualifying round. That UEL run resulted in one of their most notable matches – a 2-1 win over Manchester United although they were eliminated 6-3 on aggregate. They have reached the Champions League group stage just once, last year, finishing bottom of a group including Atalanta, Liverpool and Ajax with two points.

Two years ago they faced their only Scottish opposition – Rangers in the Europa League play-off. Steven Gerrard's team won 4-2 in Denmark before entering the group stages with a 3-1 win at Ibrox.

Their under-18s however faced Hamilton in the 2018 Youth Champions League.

Celtic’s Danish record

Midtjylland will be the sixth Danish side Celtic have faced in European competition – and the sides have never met before.

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Celtic’s win-rate over Denmark’s teams is 50-50, most recently facing FC Copenhagen in the last 32 of the 2019-20 Europa league where Neil Lennon’s team was eliminated 4-2 on aggregate after losing 3-1 at Parkhead.

That reverse was their first defeat to Danish opposition at home having previously drawn with Aalborg in the 2008-09 Champions League group stages and defeating FCK two years earlier.

Prior to then Celtic had progressed in each of the ties with AAF Aarhus, B1903 and Vejle.

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