Danish Champions FC Midtjylland enter the Champions League tonight with what should be a straight-forward tie against Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps.
UEFA Champions League, 2nd Qualifying Round, 1st Leg
The Red Imps secured Gib’s first ever club win in Europe when they disposed of Andorra’s Santa Coloma in the first qualifying round. A 2-1 victory away from home was enough to secure a place in this round but odds of 50/1 (BetVictor) tell you all you need to know about their chances against one of the most fascinating teams in Europe.
You see FC Midtjylland took a different approach to win their first ever Danish Football Championship. Formed just 16 years ago the club from Herning in the Jutland Peninsula upset the odds to land the title ahead of Copenhagen and Brondby, outscoring both along the way. Their “Moneyball’ approach to the game, which revolves around statistical analysis of players, performance, transfer targets and set-pieces is driven by manager Glen Riddersholm and majority shareholder Matthew Benham.
If the name Matthew Benham sounds familiar then look no further than Championship side Brentford. Benham caused a stir when he effectively fired manager Mark Warburton during last season despite him taking Brentford to the cusp of the play-offs. Benham’s reasoning was that Brentford’s league position didn’t reflect what his mathematical models were telling him – that Brentford were lucky to be there. His data-driven approach identified the Bees as being the 11th best team in the league, not 5th, where they found themselves. As a result, Warburton and his team were told they’d be offski at the end of the season.
FC Midtjylland’s success in Denmark is testament to Benham’s approach and who are we to argue? He’s a professional gambler who studied at Oxford and is reported to have made his millions from his analytical approach to punting. Mountains of data are used to support every key decision at FC Midtjylland – the coaches are even sent text messages at half-time with info on various statistics and patterns of play.
It stands to reason that such a professional approach will produce results and tonight could be time to cash in ourselves when “The Wolves” take on the part-timers from Gibraltar. Odds of 1/20 (Coral) on the win are unbackable but there’s little bits of value elsewhere.
FC Midtjylland -3.5 goals 10/11 (StanJames)