Tromso v Molde
It has been a much improved second half of the season for Tromsø. They only won 2 of their first 13 matches and despite drawing several fixtures were looking like getting dragged into the relegation battle. The most northerly professional football club in the world have rebounded well though, suffering just 2 defeats in their last 10 matches and picking up 18 points during that period.
The cornerstone for their success this season has been their excellent form at Alfheim Stadion. Gutan have only suffered one defeat here all year and are on a fantastic run of five straight victories in front of their own fans. The most recent of those was against bitter rivals Bodø/Glimt (3-2), a result which gave their fanbase a huge boost.
Key playmaker August Mikkelsen has been in fantastic form, although is doubtful for this match with injury. At the back, the duo of Niklas Vesterlund and Jostein Gundersen both look set to be ruled out. The latter has broken his eye socket in a horrible recent training injury which has probably ended his season.
Molde travel here having won their last ten consecutive Eliteserien matches. They are unbeaten in 18 straight league games and have a huge 13 point lead at the top of the table. With only seven games left to play, it is just a matter of time before they get their hands on the gold medal this year. Erling Moe’s men have been especially strong away from home with a fantastic 9-2-0 record. They have yet to suffer defeat on the road, although this is likely to be quite a tough test at Alfheim Stadion.
Molde have several defensive injury doubts for this match. Erling Knudtzon, Kristoffer Haugen and Benjamin Hansen are all listed as questionable, whilst Eirik Haugen is suspended. Some of those players might ultimately play but the visitors could have a soft core for this game and be vulnerable. This is a team which has scored 54 goals this season though and has more than enough firepower to compensate.
Molde are 2.10 favourites to win this game and that feels like a fair price. It’s not a guarantee they win here because Tromsø are tough to beat at home. I wouldn’t be surprised if Molde dropped points, or even suffered a rare loss.
Over 2.5 goals looks like the best bet at 1.67 when you consider the potential defensive absences at either end. Both teams have been involved in some natural high scoring games recently. Tromso beat Glimt 3-2 here, in addition to Rosenborg 4-3. This feels like it could be a similar explosive match. The result could go either way but taking the overs looks like the best bet in what could be a highly entertaining contest.
Valerenga v Stromsgodset
Since the middle of the summer Vålerenga’s form has been absolutely sensational. They have won 9 of their last 11 Eliteserien matches and even moved into medal contention as we approach the business end of the season. It is hard to believe that manager Dag Eilev Fagermo was potentially one bad result away from losing his job, but VIF have bounced back magnificently after what was a miserable first half of the campaign.
Their record at home is especially impressive, winning 8 out of 11 matches. Even during the more turbulent times they still played pretty well at the Intility Arena. This relatively newly built stadium doesn’t necessarily come across as a natural fortress, but the fans really get behind the players at this venue and the mood is excellent right now.
The key man for Vålerenga has been midfield playmaker Osame Sahraoui, who since the middle of the season has probably been the best player in the league. He is a slight injury doubt for this match but should feature, at least from the bench. Former Odd and Rosenborg striker Torgeir Børven was signed in the August transfer window and looks ready to hit the back of the net a few times before the end of the campaign. Vålerenga have won their last six consecutive home matches, with four of those to nil.
Strømsgodset had a good win in the previous round 4-1 at home to struggling Kristiansund but have generally been in poor form recently. The only teams they have beaten since the middle of the summer have been struggling sides, and all at home. Godset have endured several problems away from home in recent years. Things started better for them this season but victories away to Jerv and Kristiansund are hardly anything to shout about vs the bottom two.
Strømsgodset are now winless in their last 7 road fixtures and have lost 5 of those contests. This is a team that does not travel well and can’t be trusted. Their overall league position is a comfortable 8th place on 32 points. In a similar fashion to last year, I think they could struggle in the last seven games, especially in matches where their opponents have more to play for.
Vålerenga are definitely in the hunt for a medal spot, and this should be a regulation victory for Fagermo’s men. They are priced at 1.60 to prevail, which looks more than a good enough price. They are quite simply the better team right now and are especially strong at home where their xG average per match is as big as 2.37.
Two goals would surely be enough to get them the 3 points here, but one might be enough considering Strømsgodset have been beaten to nil in 3 of their last 5 away games. Just simply taking VIF straight on the nose to win looks like the best bet.
Sandefjord v Sarpsborg
This is a battle between two of the worst defences in the Eliteserien. Sandefjord have conceded a mammoth 54 goals this season which has been their constant achilles heel. Only Jerv have conceded more goals and they have kept just 3 clean sheets all season.
Sandefjord have conceded at least two goals in all of their last 8 consecutive league games which is obviously an appalling record. Their average xGA per 90 mins of 1.99 shows that this is a legitimately poor defence which just leaks goals.
At the other end of the field the duo of Mohamed Ofkir and Alexander Ruud Tveter have combined to score 18 goals, more than half of their overall tally. These two players have had great campaigns and must be given a lot of credit. Sandefjord have to be given some respect with those two on the field and the offense has managed to keep them competitive. Despite this, Sandefjord are situated in 14th place which is currently the relegation playoff spot.
Sarpsborg have found form at just the right time. They lost eight consecutive league games but have rebounded with three wins of their own, all against key relegation rivals. The spark which ignited their turnaround was scoring two injury time goals vs Ham Kam (2-1) and since then some victories vs Aalesund (3-1) and a wild 4-3 vs Jerv have moved them up to 28 points. A win here would probably be enough to secure safety, or at least put them in a very commanding position.
It is no surprise to see Sarpsborg as the favourite to win this match, but at an odds-on price of 1.95 this feels a bit too short on a team which can’t be fully trusted. One thing that Sarpsborg can be trusted for is creating chances and scoring goals. They have the second best xG in the league (45.77) and have actually slightly underachieved that mark by netting only 42 times. They carry a decent offensive force and playmaker Tobias Heintz scored a hat-trick vs Jerv. He has been in excellent recent form.
I would expect Sarpsborg to win this match, but the best bet is definitely taking over 2.5 goals. The overs market is always the first port of call when betting on a Sandefjord match because an incredible 21 out of their 23 fixtures have contained at least 3 goals this year. These two teams have two of the worst xGA metrics in the entire league and have the highest number of average goals per game at 3.90 and 3.80 respectively.
Sometimes, the best bet is the most obvious pick and 1.47 on a straight over 2.5 goals feels like the price is too big. Fairer odds would probably be something closer to the 1.30 mark because these two defences are so poor that you have to expect goals to flow at both ends.
Kristiansund v Rosenborg
Both teams need the points for different reasons, and this should be a cracking game of football, hopefully containing several goals. It looked completely doom and gloom for Kristiansund a few weeks ago and it seemed like they were consigned to finish rock bottom of the table. They have given themselves a chance though by picking up 10 points from their last 5 games.
It was a disappointment that they lost 1-4 vs Strømsgodset just before the international break but that can be a difficult place to visit, and it was a reminder how fragile this team is still defensively. KBK have won their last three consecutive home games which include victories against two top six teams Viking & Vålerenga. The victory vs Vålerenga (3-2) especially holds up really well considering that team is in such great form.
Kristiansund have proved they are at least competitive and capable of beating anyone on the day. KBK do not have bad underlying metrics and have the 11th best xG in the league (35.19) and only the 7th worst xGA (40.25). The problem is at both ends of the field they have vastly underachieved, only scoring 25 goals and conceding 46 times.
Rosenborg are up to third place in the table and will be strongly eyeing up the silver medal position. They now appear to have extra momentum than Lillestrøm, who they recently beat 3-1. Their other rivals for the medal spot Bodø/Glimt have a tough looking upcoming schedule packed full of European matches so this is a great time to take advantage.
This is a good chance for Rosenborg to get back into Europe and finish second. They have been in excellent overall form, winning 9 of their last 13 league games although have suffered two consecutive away defeats which are slightly concerning. RBK have recently lost 1-2 at Haugesund and 3-4 at Tromsø. Their last 8 consecutive matches have all contained over 2.5 goals in addition to both teams scoring.
Rosenborg have much better attack force now since the arrival of striker Casper Tengstedt in the summer transfer window. His partnership with Ole Christian Saeter upfront is working very well. RBK seem less secure defensively, but they are capable of outscoring nearly any other team now due to their firepower.
Rosenborg are priced as the 1.85 favourites to win this match which might look slightly generous when you considerer the fact that Kristiansund have lost a massive 15 out of 23 league matches this season. However, their improved recent form coupled with RBK’s defensive fragility means that an away victory is not a guarantee.
A better bet looks to be in the goals market with over 2.5 at 1.57 appearing a decent price. Both teams to score could also be considered here but a 1-1 draw doesn’t really accomplish anything for either team, a victory is worth its weight in gold much more. Both teams have been involved in a recent run of over matches where clean sheets have been a rarity. There should be at least three goals in this game, and I am expecting a thrilling end to end type encounter.
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