Grorud v Sogndal
Despite claiming a shock 4-2 away win at Sandnes last week, Grorud were officially relegated because of results elsewhere. It was always going to be just a matter of time before their demise was confirmed. That victory at Sandnes was only their second win of the entire season, that is how bad Grorud have been. It was a strange game and perhaps the lack of pressure helped Grorud and they decided to go down swinging. They have absolutely nothing to lose now and can enjoy themselves. They are still a prideful team and I’m sure will want to try and at least avoid finishing rock bottom. The truth is that Grorud are just a very poor football team though. They have conceded 65 goals in 27 games which is an astronomical number. Their defence is legitimately bad, averaging an xGA of 2.27 per 90 mins. At the other end of the field, they have only scored 29 times, the second fewest of any team in the OBOS Ligaen. However, the fact that they scored four times away to Sandnes last week must be considered a major positive.
Sogndal might have re-found some form at just the right stage of the season. Their playoff hopes looked poor after losing 5 out of 6 games but they have rebounded well to obtain 8 points from their last four fixtures. Manager Tore Andre Flo must be given some credit for changing the formation from 4-4-2 to a variation of 3-4-3 or 3-5-2. Moving to a back three has seen them keep two clean sheets and only concede one goal in their last three OBOS matches. Sogndal should be full of confidence after hammering Stjørdals-Blink 6-1 last weekend. Mexican striker Alejandro Diaz scored a hat-trick in that game and was a very interesting summer signing from Canadian club Pacific FC. He was a prolific scorer in that league and maybe now he will start to take off after such a great performance last week. Sogndal are situated in 7th position, just outside of the playoffs by a three point margin. They simply have to win all of their remaining fixtures and it goes without saying beating a team such as Grorud is absolutely imperative.
Sogndal must be on the front foot here and they are expected to win as a 1.75 away favourite. I think the better bet is to take over 2.5 goals though. Grorud have no fear now and when football is played without pressure it can open things up. They proved last week by beating 6th placed Sandnes away that they could potentially cause some issues. I am not expecting any surprises here, but the two teams should certainly combine for at least three goals. Sogndal are the 5th highest scoring team in the OBOS Ligaen and could potentially cover this line on their own.
Start v Åsane
There was a shock result last week as Start’s five game winning streak was ended by relegation threatened Skeid. Despite being an even money away favourite, they lost 2-3 in what was a wild encounter. Start have been involved in some very high scoring fixtures recently. All of their last nine OBOS games have ended with at least over 2.5 goals and in many cases the games have gone significantly over. Start have been in especially strong goalscoring form, netting a total of 28 goals in those aforementioned last nine fixtures. This is an attack force which must be given respect and they have the third best xG in the division, averaging an impressive 1.97 per 90 mins. Their top scorer for the season is still Jonatan Braut Brunes who left the club in the summer transfer window. They have done well to adapt to life without him and retain a strong attacking threat. Midfield playmaker Eirik Schulze has really stepped up in recent weeks, scoring 6 goals and supplying 2 assists in his last 9 starts. Start have won their last five consecutive home games and have the fourth strongest home record in the OBOS Ligaen.
Åsane are situated seven points clear of the relegation zone and would be officially safe if they won this match. It is highly likely they already have enough points though because Skeid would need to win away to Brann as a 30/1 away underdog and then also win their final two games to topple Åsane’s points total. The visitors have overall had a decent season and if they were to finish 11th then it would be classed as a success. They beat Raufoss 1-0 last week which ended a poor run of just one point from four games. Åsane are the sort of side who often produce mixed results and can be quite difficult to predict. The clean sheet obtained last week was a rare one though and this is a team which has conceded a massive 58 goals during the course of the season. They have the third worst xG per 90 mins of any team (1.97), so this defence is legitimately poor. Their goalscoring has enabled them to stay competitive and the main reason why they should ultimately avoid getting dragged into the relegation battle.
Start are now six points behind the second automatic promotion spot. They are now realistically aiming to finish as high as possible in the playoffs to obtain a good seeding, giving them a better chance to ultimately progress to the playoff match vs the 14th place Eliteserien club. They are unsurprisingly 1.33 favourites to prevail because most of the motivation is on their side. A better bet looks to be over 2.5 goals considering their recent matches. Start alone could cover this goal line. It is tempting to back over 3.5 goals at a better price, but I think the best option here is to keep things simple.
Stjørdals-Blink v Fredrikstad
Relegation has now been confirmed for Stjørdals-Blink after they got hammered 6 -1 by Sogndal last week. They remain rooted on 14 points and are now rock bottom of the table after such a miserable campaign. The writing was on the wall fairly early for Blinks this year, but relegation looked a nigh on certainty after their mid-season financial issues. The club has done well just to stay afloat. They were forced to cut several players due to money worries and the rest of the coaching staff and squad agreed to a minimum salary for the rest of the year. Obviously, this weekend the squad brought an air of uncertainty to everything related to the squad. To be fair, Stjørdals-Blink did have a mini-revival in the late summer going on a surprising four game unbeaten run, but that has been sandwiched by two losing streaks of six straight games. They head into this fixture with very little to play for now except pride and I suspect everyone just wants this season to end. Blinks have the worst attack and defence in the entire OBOS Ligaen, scoring just 27 goals and conceding a massive 66 times.
There is no doubt that this match means a lot more to Fredrikstad. They lost 1-3 at home to Bryne last week to leave themselves under some pressure because they still haven’t confirmed their survival. Skeid’s shock victory vs Start means that Fredrikstad have a five point cushion above the drop zone. It is perfectly feasible they might already have enough points required to stay up, but they could ideally do with winning this game to give themselves more of a comfort. They are the 1.80 away favourites to prevail and that actually looks like a generous price. I wouldn’t want to put anyone off backing FFK here because they are quite simply the better team with much more to fight for. They recently sacked long standing manager Bjørn Johansen after five years in charge. Joakim Klaeboe is the caretaker manager and has promised to produce an entertaining team. To be fair, all of his games in charge have been very watchable so far, including a 3-3 draw vs Skeid. Last week’s defeat to Bryne at home shows their defensive frailties. FFK have the 6th worst xGA average per 90 mins (1.82) which has been a constant Achilles heel all season. They do possess a strong attack force though and have the 5th best xG out of any team (48.60). They have underachieved that mark by only netting 42 times though.
I do like Fredrikstad to win this match, but I think a better and probably safer pick is for them to score over 1.5 goals on their own. They are facing statistically the worst defence in the league and this Blinks side have conceded 24 goals in their last 6 games. There is a chance that Fredrikstad could feel the pressure in their quest to get points, but if they are to be let down then it is more likely to be their defence which cracks, rather than the attack. The visitors should be able to fill their boots and certainly at least manage to net twice.
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