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Five of the most unusual methods used to beat the opposition

| 30.09.2015

Ahead of their Champions League clash with Real Madrid tonight, Swedish club Malmo have reportedly narrowed their pitch to crowd out the Spanish giants.

Images released on social media show pitch markings a metre narrower than previously laid out.

We imagine the idea is to make Rafa Benitez’s Los Blancos feel as uncomfortable as possible for their trip to Scandinavia.

Malmo aren’t the first side to take unusual steps to try and gain an advantage however, here are four other unusual methods.

Don’t go into the long grass

It wasn’t just Jurassic Park that was big in the early 90s. Cambridge United had developed a novel idea which helped them to a handy spell of success over subsequent years.

With 6ft2 Dion Dublin beginning to make a name for himself, the U’s came up with a clever ruse of allowing the grass on the Abbey Stadium pitch to grow longer on the wings in order for the ball to hold up and allow midfielders to get more crosses in or win corners.

There were even murmurings the club used sand to help the pitch dry out in certain areas.

Totally coincidentally, Dublin scored over 50 times en route to a £1m move to Manchester United, while Cambridge went from the then fourth division to the second in successive seasons.

They reached the Division 2 play-offs in 1991-92 season, and had they been victorious they would have found themselves in the inaugural Premier League. Instead a year later they were relegated back to Division 3 and haven’t been that high since.

Eagles and Seagulls rivalry takes smelly twist

Few teams have erupted into such fierce rivals in recent years as Brighton and Crystal Palace in the M23 derby.

A 2013 play-off battle for the Premier League was always going to be hotly contested. But things really cranked up a notch when then Eagles boss Ian Holloway found a rather unpleasant surprise in the changing rooms ahead of kick-off.

With nobody coming forward to reveal the culprit, this already atmospheric contest exploded into life at the Amex Stadium. Palace weren’t to be deterred however and won 2-0 en route to promotion to the Premier League.

Then Brighton manager Gus Poyet launched a scathing email to his staff demanding to find out who did such an act.

Earlier this year however the culprit was finally revealed – step forward the Crystal Palace coach driver.

Lasagne hammers Spurs

Sometimes a team just needs to rely on an opponent’s hotel to do the work for them…

Tottenham faced West Ham on the final day of the season simply needing to match Arsenal’s result to claim Champions League football.

Most Spurs players enjoyed (or should that be endured?) a lasagne for their pre-match meal the night before the match, but just a few hours later upwards of 10 players fell violently ill.

By the next morning witnesses said Michael Carrick could barely walk.

Knowing that a postponement could result in dropped points and no European football at all, Tottenham just about put a team out at Upton Park, and naturally lost to the Hammers.

To make matters worse Arsenal won and the Gunners’ stranglehold over Spurs continued as they claimed fourth place.

Lasagne hasn’t been on the menu at White Hart Lane ever since.

A flat ball is a grippy ball

You couldn’t go far this spring or summer without hearing about ‘Deflategate’.

The New England Patriots – en route to being crowned Super Bowl champions – were accused of deliberately taking air out of the footballs in their AFC Championship game with Indianapolis Colts in order to gain an advantage with a grippier and less reactive football.

Tom Brady lead the Patriots to a 45-7 win in that game but was then handed a four-game ban in May for his role in the scandal, which has since been overturned.

The investigation into deflategate is still ongoing, but it’s still a pretty odd way to beat the opposition.

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Richard Marsh

Richard loves his sport, especially if it involves the sound of tyres screaming around a race track. He's not fussy though and his '90s Premier League nostalgia and knowledge of team nicknames is tough to match.