MCH Arena, UEFA Europa League Group F , 15/9/22
Football Club Midtjylland
Founded – 1999
Nickname – Ulvene (The Wolves)
Honours – Superliga – 2015, 2018 and 2020. Danish Cup 2019 and 2022. 1e Divisie – 2000
Random Fact – The club are a merger of two clubs, Herning Fremad and Ikast FS. The latter being where ex Aberdeen player Henning Boel started his career. Any excuse for a Dons link.
Being away with work threw up a beauty here. Getting to see an Italian team around one hour from where I am stationed. Yes please. I almost ended in Silkeborg to see the eponymous club playing West Ham as I thought this match was sold out. Did FCM release more tickets? I am not sure and I don’t care really. Give me Danes v a Serie A side over an English side anyday.
After shift what I thought was to be a mad rush ensued to ensure I made it to the MCH arena on time or so I thought. I jumped in a taxi only to be treated to a brilliant history lesson of the country and especially Esbjerg and the Jutland area of Denmark. The driver, Joran (75) was like a tour guide and driver combined and a top man in general. A truly brilliant human being. Heading to Herning past the endless corn and tattie fields and wild apple trees at the side of the road staring out at the unspoiled lands as far as the eye could see while being informed about the area was an excellent experience. (Denmark is really flat for the record) A brilliant start to what was away to be one of my best fitba away days to date. And as it turned out there was no rush and I had an hour to spare(in the bar). Nice one.
On arrival at the MCH Arena I bagged my obligatory scarf for me and badge for my brother and headed to the grog shop next door to the club shop. I was initially refused entry due to my Aberdeen hat as it was for “home fans only”. However, this neutral managed to get eventually in and get the shock of his life when he found that a pint of Royal Pilsener was 30dkk (£3.50). After a few of the surprisingly cheap amber delights, I headed into the ground to see what Danish fitba had to offer.
In the past I have had little experience of Danish fitba. I had seen Aberdeen play Brondby and Copenhagen and that was about as far as it went. Little did I know what was coming here. As I turned up minutes from kick off, I was treated to the adjacent display from the noisy FCM fans which included flags and pyro which fogged out the pitch for a few moments. The Lazio fans in the far corner were maybe light in numbers but were making their presence known by making themselves heard too. The teams emerged and the game got going to the soundtrack of the Midtjylland ultras behind goal which included a rendition of Twisted Sister’s “We’re not Gonna Take it” with alternate lyrics. It didn’t take long for the ball to find the back of the net when after Lazio keeper Provdel was caught pissing about with the ball before a poor release which saw Evander pick up the slack pass and fire home. The Lazio number 1 (well 94) on realisation of his terrible pass went down injured after a nothing incident with Kaba, this conning the referee into disallowing the goal. A poor decision from the man in the middle. Lazio looked the better team in the first half and knocked the ball about well looking assured in possession, but they didn’t look threatening at any point, even with seasoned campaigner Ciro Immobile up front. I was keeping my eye on him and his movement off the ball is superb, creating space for himself and for his teammates around him. But it was not to be his night. Despite a large quantity of possession Lazio did eventually find themselves 1-0 down and it was only the beginning of things to come. Issaksen struck a brilliant effort from range which crashed off the bar but the rebound fell to Paulinho who’s low drive hit the back of the net on 25 minutes. The lead was quickly doubled a couple of minutes later when Kaba sent a tidy effort past Provdel from inside the box. I was almost three before the half was out, but Thychosen saw his header stay out. Lazio’s only real chance came in the dying embers of the half when after a great team move tore Midtjylland to bits leaving Pedro in on goal, but Lossl stood up well and got a strong hand to the Spaniards effort.
HT 2 v 0
After free coffees were handed out at half time (nice touch) I chatted away to the couple next to me, Bruno and Freida, who had intended on going to Silkeborg v West Ham but they could not get ticket. They were enjoying their night despite not being their original plan, I found it interesting to hear that no matter what Danish team were playing in Europe they wanted them to win despite supporting other teams. This
does not compute with me but each to their own. We were also in agreement that Lazio despite being 2 v 0 down were not out of the game. How wrong we were. Midtjylland came out even looking for the kill and they put the game out of sight early doors when Evander converted what looked a stonewall penalty from where I was seated. The shock result was on, but the home side were not finished despite Lazio substitute Milinkovic-Savic grabbing a fortuitously deflected consolation for the Roman side. But the three-goal lead was restored soon after when Evander missed a second Midtjylland penalty, but the rebound fell to Issaksen who made no mistake. Then four was soon five when Eric Sviatchenko sent FCM into dream land on this special European night when he slid in at the back post. I could not believe what I was witnessing and to be honest it could have been more too. Lazio were completely shellshocked and in short blown away. Midtjylland on the other hand were bouncing. The second half was absolute domination. Incredible scenes and an incredible night. In the fan bar after the final whistle while waiting for my car speaking to fans they were clearly lost for words after what was a famous night for their club. I am sure the beers flowed long into the night for Peder and co who I was invited to join for a beer. For me I headed back to the coast amazed at how great a night I had just had. From the journey there to the the company I kept, to the shock result and being allowed to drink a few tinnies in the car on the way home, my choice of going to watch Midtjylland was one of my best fitba related decisions to date. 73 clubs visited abroad and FCM are in the upper echelons of greatness.
Entrance – 135DKK (£15.70)
Attendance – 10000
Pie – Didn’t bother
Pint – 30dkk (£3.50) Royal Pilsener, Black Wolves Supporters Bar