Champions League: Liverpool FC faces FC Midtjylland, the Danish club revolutionizing football

But should you’re a football fan you are more likely to bear in mind that the metropolis’s football club FC Midtjylland is doing a fairly good job of placing Herning on the map.

Formed in 1999 after a merger of two rivals golf equipment in the metropolis that is located in central Denmark, Midtjylland was taken over by Matthew Benham, who additionally owns English Championship aspect Brentford, in 2014.

Under his watch, the club has pioneered the use of information and specialised teaching to stand up the ranks of European soccer.

It’s a philosophy that has shortly reaped rewards. The club has now gained three home titles and certified for this season’s Champions League for the first time in its historical past. Midtjylland will play Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday.

Midtjylland’s exceptional rise is testomony to the David versus Goliath mentality put in in the crew, in keeping with the club’s chairman Rasmus Ankersen.

“We’re a small club in a small town, but we compete with the bigger cities,” Ankersen tells CNN Sport’s Alex Thomas.

“That’s the DNA of the club, to try and get more from every resource, to try and do things differently, to try and see if you can make an upset.”

Specialist teaching

Being a small crew with restricted assets has meant Midtjylland has emphasised the pursuit of marginal features.

Ankersen says the club focuses closely on set-pieces — an typically underlooked aspect of the recreation — which he says results in 35% of targets scored.

Though Midtjylland may need to tweak that strategy in the Champions League. According to UEFA’s not too long ago launched Champions League Technical Report reviewing the 2019/2020 seasn there’s been a discount in the variety of targets from set-pieces, with only a single one scored by the taker of a direct free-kick. That report’s goalscoring evaluation highlighted the significance of crosses and cutbacks — which accounted for 29.3% of all targets scored.

Midtjylland has additionally been a pioneer in using specialist coaches — particularly for throw-ins and for placing the ball.

“Wherever we think there is an edge to be found, we will seek it out,” Ankersen says.

“Could you imagine a company that spent a fraction of its time on the activity that generated 35% of its revenue? It’s probably unheard of in business but that happens in football.

“So these are a few of the belongings you try to go in and also you problem. There’s been this notion {that a} actually dangerous crew could be good at set-plays as a result of they do not have a lot else to supply.

“But it’s more difficult for us to accept that a good team can become outstanding because of set-pieces.”

The revolutionary strategies have been as soon as sneered at however are being more and more adopted by a few of the greatest golf equipment in the world.

Notably in 2018 Liverpool began utilizing long-throw coach Thomas Grønnemark, who labored extensively with Midtjylland, and has benefited from the appointment. The Premier League champion has seen its capability to retain possession from throw-ins rise from 45.4% to 68.4%, in keeping with the Guardian.

“There was a couple of seasons where we had scored nine or 10 goals per season from long throws,” says Ankersen. “It’s been very effective.”

FC Midtjylland celebrating after winning the Danish Superliga in 2018.

Setting an instance

It’s an identical story in terms of recruitment.

Midtjylland leans closely into utilizing metrics to unearth hidden expertise and discover bargains from round the world, in what Ankersen describes as “buying cheap and selling expensive.”

instance is the switch of Alexander Sørloth to Crystal Palace for over $10 million, after Midtjylland had purchased the Norwegian for $390,000.

The club additionally advantages from utilizing Benham’s firm Smartodds to assist analyze matches and gamers from round the world.

“In the last five years, it’s been organic growth,” mirrored Ankersen. “I think we found a model that has worked also for us financially.

“We simply need to try to discover our place and attempt to preserve pushing the boundaries.”

Two years before buying Midtjylland, Benham took over English club Brentford and appointed Ankersen as the co-director of football.

The London-based club, playing in the second division of English soccer, has adopted similar methods as the Danish side.

Last season Brentford came close to winning promotion to the Premier League and it’s a testament to the the Championship club’s success that it’s already lost two set-piece coaches to Arsenal and Manchester City.

Despite being proud to see bigger clubs try to copy their approach, Ankersen admits its frustrating to lose talented employees.

“It is the method it’s. That’s the place we’re on the meals chain,” he says. “We settle for it and attempt to progress as a club. Maybe sooner or later we get to a stage the place it turns into harder and harder for our workers members to go away after they get gives.”

Champions League dreams

Midtjylland’s debut in this season’s Champions League didn’t exactly go to plan — the Danish club was thrashed at home 4-0 by Atalanta in its opening group stage game.

It’s now looking forward to taking on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side on Tuesday, considered one of the best teams in the world.

Ankersen will travel with the squad for the match and says it’s “devastating” the club won’t get to experience a packed Anfield stadium, with games in England still being played behind closed doors amid the pandemic.

Despite this, he says the team will go into the match with the same mentality that has got the club into its current position.

“It is clearly a large hole [between the two teams]. But pay attention, greater miracles have occurred in football,” he says.

According to reports in recent weeks, FIFA is proposing to launch a European Premier League competition.

In statement sent to CNN, UEFA said it strongly opposes a “Super League,” but Ankersen fears that any future reforms will be in “favor of the huge golf equipment” in a “closed league.”

“That’s the method it is going, sadly,” added Ankersen. “I feel it is nice for football that you’ve these fairytale tales and it is actually vital for golf equipment like Midtjylland and all these different golf equipment to have huge desires and that you simply preserve that dream alive and make really lifelike to get to play at the greatest stage.”

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