Fredrikstad v Bryne
A much needed victory was registered by Fredrikstad last week when they beat Mjøndalen 2-1. It was just their second win in 11 league games and moved them up to 29 points. With only 4 games remaining it looks like FFK should be safe because they have a seven point gap to the relegation zone. Nothing is confirmed yet though and they could ideally do with beating Bryne here to further cement their spot. Fredrikstad made the difficult recent decision to sack manager Bjørn Johansen after 5 years in charge. Since that decision, they drew 3-3 away to Skeid and then obtained the aforementioned victory last week. Joakim Klaeboe has been appointed caretaker manager until the end of the season and he said he wanted to entertain the fans by bringing some exciting football. Fredrikstad came out of the traps very quickly last week and dominated the first half vs Mjøndalen. They won the xG battle 1.99 to 1.86 and the match probably should have contained more goals. Klaeboe’s tactics are very aggressive with the simple aim of outscoring opponents.
Bryne travel here on 26 points, but they suffered a damaging 0-3 defeat at home to Skeid last week. That result now only puts them four points clear of the relegation zone, but it was their first defeat in seven league games. It had been the most consistent and best period of their campaign, even if defensively Bryne have been very poor recently, conceding at least 3 goals in all of their last 3 games. They were involved in a couple of wild consecutive 3-3 draws vs Sogndal and KFUM Oslo respectively and have now conceded a disappointing 47 goals this season. Bryne actually have the 8th best xG out of any team (43.68) but have only converted that into 35 goals which is quite a considerable underachievement.
The team from southwest Norway, who were actually the first club of Norwegian superstar Erling Braut Haaland were always expected to struggle this year. If they were to avoid the relegation zone, then it would be considered a success. Youngster Sigurd Gronli is one to watch out for. The attacking midfielder has been in good form scoring three goals in his last four matches and will offer a considerable threat for the visitors.
I think Fredrikstad will win the match and I wouldn’t want to put anyone off backing them at a price of 1.83. This could look a big price come the final whistle because they do look a more fired up and fresher side under their new caretaker manager. Taking over 2.5 goals at 1.53 looks a much safer selection though. It has been a long time since Fredrikstad kept a clean sheet and Bryne have been leaking goals considerably recently. All things are pointing towards an offensive clash in which both teams contribute. Even if Bryne have a very poor day then Fredrikstad can cover this goal line on their own.
KFUM Oslo v Stabaek
The big match of the round comes from Oslo where 4th place KFUM host Stabaek who are currently in the second automatic promotion position. KFUM were looking strong in the promotion race but have gone off form recently losing to Kongsvinger 1-3, only drawing 3-3 vs struggling Bryne and then last week suffering a crucial 2-3 setback vs Start who are now above them in the table. If KFUM are to remain in the automatic promotion race, then they simply must obtain victory here. The big strength of the team is their attack which has scored an impressive 54 goals this season. They have the 4th best xG per 90 mins (1.91) which is legitimately strong and statistically at the other end of the field they still have the second lowest xGA out of any team in the OBOS (38.48). They have underachieved that mark though by conceding 43 times. This is a defence which ultimately cannot be trusted and KFUM have only kept four clean sheets all season. Conceding exactly three goals in all of their last three matches at this crucial stage of the season is not a good sign and very worrying for their fans.
Stabaek are now five points clear in second place after comfortably beating Åsane 4-0 last week. The appointment of Lars Bohinen as manager looks to be a masterstroke and they have obtained 16 points from a possible 18 since he took charge of the club. It is noticeable that Bohinen has underseen five wins to nil. Although not necessarily regarded as a defensive coach, Stabaek have had more control on matches which has enabled them to be patient if required. Behind Brann, they have the second best defensive record in the OBOS Ligaen, conceding just 24 goals. This is a vast overachievement compared to their xGA of 39.78.
A big explanation for that statistic is the form of goalkeeper Marcus Sandberg who must be considered probably the best goalkeeper in the league. He’s kept 14 clean sheets and made several key saves this year. It is no surprise he has shown his extra class. At the other end of the field Nigerian striker Gift Emmanuel Orban has netted 17 goals in 20 games (all competitions) and also weighed in with 6 assists. The 20 year old is one of the most exciting young talents in the OBOS.
When betting in a KFUM Oslo match the same thing keeps applying, just investigate the goals market because a massive 23 of their 26 games have contained over 2.5 goals. The reverse fixture ended a 2-2 draw, and I could see something similar again. KFUM simply must win the game so need to take more risks which could potentially leave them exposed. A draw is not the worst outcome for Stabaek but with IK Start also breathing down their necks then they would ideally love to win to preserve their five point cushion in second place. Despite their good defensive record under Bohinen, I think KFUM can cause them plenty of problems and I am expecting a high scoring encounter. Over 2.5 goals at 1.53 just looks like the obvious bet considering who is involved and what is at stake.
Sandnes v Grorud
Automatic promotion is probably out of the question for Sandnes now, but they still need to cement their playoff position, and this looks like an ideal chance vs a Grorud side who are effectively down. Sandnes had a fantastic run in the middle of the summer which propelled them into a contender for second spot but then a winless streak of five straight games came at the wrong time. They have at least won consecutive road matches vs Fredrikstad and Ranheim which have enabled them to keep 5th place. However, there are teams breathing down their neck so they can ill afford to slip up here. Sandnes have lost consecutive home matches to Brann and Start but we must remember that both of those two teams are above them in the table and significantly better than Grorud.
The visitors are the worst team in the OBOS Ligaen and have only won 1 out of 26 games this season. Incredibly, they aren’t yet officially relegated but they would have to win all of their remaining matches and hope that Skeid somehow lost all of their final four games to stand any chance of surviving. Grorud have an appalling away record, obtaining just four points with a 13:36 goal differential in 13 games. All of their last 7 road trips have resulted in defeats, the most recent was a 0-7 loss at Brann and a 0-5 defeat to Start.
Sandnes have already had two 6-0 home victories this season so don’t rule out another massive landslide defeat for the cellar dwellers. Grorud average a massive 2.07 xGA per 90 mins and have conceded a whopping 63 times this season, which is quite astonishing in just 26 league games. They are facing a Sandnes attack force which has the 6th best xG in the division, averaging 1.74 per game.
This looks like an obvious home win, and it is a surprise to see Sandnes as big as 1.33 to prevail. At this stage of the season, I expected them to be much shorter. Grorud are totally finished and I am expecting them to be officially relegated here. Sandnes certainly have the motivation required to win and keep their stronghold on a playoff position. Taking the home team to win and for over 1.5 goals to be scored looks like a decent bet. I can’t really envisage this game only ending 1-0 and taking this bet does cover for any other one goal victory rather than having to worry about a handicap. You could be more aggressive and take the Sandnes handicap, which is a big price at 2.0. However, I prefer this safer selection because all Sandnes will be bothered about is collecting 3 points.
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