Saturday’s action, away from the Champions League final which kicks off at 8pm in Istanbul, features lots of Scandinavian football, primarily in Sweden, with the Allsvenskan and Superettan set to continue throughout the summer.
There is a ‘David and Goliath’ clash in the Swedish Superettan as Gefle welcome Osters, while Malmo travel to proverbial yo-yo side Varnamo in the Swedish top-flight this Saturday afternoon.
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Saturday’s Best Bets & Predictions
Gefle v Östers
These are two sides that are at opposite ends of the table and whilst they are both expected to have very different seasons, they may come into this game in similar moods.
Following promotion from the third and regionalised tier of Swedish football last season, Gefle enjoyed an impressive start to the season. The hosts began with back-to-back victories against Trelleborg and Helsingborg but have since struggled, winning just one of their next nine matches.
They come into this on the back of a 2-0 defeat away to fellow strugglers Orebro in their most recent outing, last weekend, which made it three successive defeats. They have begun to be exposed for their reliance on Christoffer Aspgren’s delivery with only eight goals being scored without Aspgren assisting in their opening 11 games.
Under the management of Stefan Tugedzic, Östers missed out on promotion to the top-flight last season in the Allsvenskan/Superettan relegation/promotion playoffs, losing to Varberg. However, this time around, they expect to go a couple better and started the campaign with 12 goals and 12 points in their opening four matches.
This excellent start has fallen away however, they have been quite inconsistent and come into this on the back of a fourth defeat in their last seven matches following a 1-0 defeat at home to league leaders Utsiktens last weekend. Despite this blip, they do remain one of the strongest sides in the division.
Due to their recent inconsistency, and the fact they are away from home, Östers provide good value in this one, especially against struggling newly-promoted opposition who are actually bottom of the expected points table in Sweden’s second-tier.
Västerås v Skövde
We are now more than a third of the way through the 2023 Superettan campaign and these two have enjoyed/endured very different starts as they sit at opposite ends of the table.
After finishing firmly in the middle-of-the-table with ten victories, ten draws and ten defeats in the 2022 season, Västerås have continued their impressive end to that season with a strong start in this one. Kalle Karlsson’s side begin this weekend’s round of fixtures sitting second in the table and in the automatic promotion spots.
They come into this on the back of a dramatic 2-1 win away at ten-man Östersund. The opposition led with just over ten minutes to go before Theodore Rask was sent off and then an 80th minute equaliser by second-half substitute Filip Tronet was followed by a winning goal from Frederic Nsabiyuma in stoppage-time.
In the opening ten matches of the season, Skövde collected just three points and remained winless. The visitors were promoted to the second-tier in 2021 and managed a mid-table finish in 2022 but it does look set to be another long and hard battle against relegation.
They do, though, come into this having earned their first victory of the campaign in their eleventh outing. They edged past fellow strugglers AFC Eskilstuna with a goal early in the second-half scored by Isak Vidjeskog. A lack of goals has been a major issue for Skövde with just nine goals scored in their 11 games and five of those goals have come in two separate matches, making it just four in the other nine.
This one seems like quite a straight forward outcome and especially with their home advantage, Västerås will be confident of winning this one quite comfortably.
IFK Värnamo v Malmö FF
Värnamo are a real yo-yo team, alternating between convincing victories and disappointing defeats, rarely finding any middle ground. They are the only team in the division without a draw to their name but have still managed to win enough matches to stay out of trouble until now. Against the better teams they tend to struggle, but four victories against out-of-form sides this season are keeping them afloat.
While they have one of the best strikers in the division in Gustav Engvall, who has now found his stride after lacking some match fitness, the rest of the attack and squad as a whole largely lacks in quality. The defence, especially, is simply not good enough to compete against superior opponents, and this has been shown up time and time again.
In addition, they are one of the most low-scoring sides in the division, much too reliant on Engvall and the consistent Oscar Johansson. If those two can keep producing, Värnamo should be able to avoid relegation, but they are not too far from the bottom three and could easily get dragged into a battle with a poor run of form.
Malmö FF are a rejuvenated machine after a shaky 2022, back on top of Allsvenskan again after a 5-0 mauling of Degerfors, with Elfsborg dropping points to Djurgården. They are a scintillating side, blowing most teams away with innovation, clever movement and incision in attack.
This is coupled with a resolute defence and strong press when losing the ball which makes the southerners a more or less complete outfit. While they are no longer unbeaten, both Elfsborg and Häcken are going to need to keep a frantic pace to keep up at the top of the table. Against weaker opponents, their quality tends to shine through sooner or later, with by far the strongest team in the division and a ridiculous strength in depth.
Anders Christiansen has had a pacemaker put in after a scare and will thus remain out for the rest of the season. His absence is certainly a blow but with Taha Ali picking up the creative reigns and youngster Hugo Bolin impressing in his first Allsvenskan start last game, it won’t hurt the team too much in the short term.
Jönköping Södra v Trelleborg
After 11 matches of the 2023 Superettan season, both of these sides will be looking up the table and eyeing up the top three spots. Both of them have enjoyed entertaining starts to the campaign, at the very least.
Under the management of former Getafe youth coach Andres Garcia, Jönköping Södra are enjoying a much-improved 2023 season. They finished the 2022 campaign sitting just outside of the bottom four and the relegation places. This time around, though, they are fifth off the top as they compete for an unlikely promotion to the Allsvenskan.
The home team come into this on the back of another entertaining outing as they shared a 2-2 draw with struggling Helsingborg in their most recent game, last weekend. Their 11 matches have consisted of 42 goals with nine of those games featuring both teams scoring as Garcia seeks to implement an attacking style of football.
Trelleborg finished fourth in the Superettan table last season, narrowly missing out to Östers who qualified for the Allsvenskan/Superettan relegation/promotion playoff match. They would expect to challenge towards the top end of the table once again but come into this on the back of some inconsistent form throughout the first couple of months of the season.
In their 11 games, they have five wins, five defeats and a draw. However, they have dramatically improved in recent weeks with their 1-0 defeat of Brage last weekend meaning they have now collected 13 points in their last five games. Akin to J-Södra, they have remained similarly entertaining, too, with 35 goals coming in their 11 games.
Both of these sides are looking strong and hoping to have very good summer months. They will expect to challenge at the top, but regardless of who comes out on top here, they appear intent on providing entertainment, so this one should see plenty of goals and could be quite fun for the neutral.
Utsiktens v GIF Sundsvall
Both of these two sides will be expecting to be in and around the promotion spots come the end of the season and, to very different extents, that is how their respective seasons have started.
Bosko Orovic was appointed as the Utsiktens boss in 2020 and, in his first season, guided them to promotion back to the second-tier in 2021 before a mid-table finish in the Superettan last season. This time around, though, they are seeking promotion to the Swedish top-flight for the first time in their short history.
After 11 matches of the 2023 season, the ‘Kiken’ from Gothenburg sit at the top-of-the-table and actually have a five-point lead ahead of this weekend’s round of fixtures. They have enjoyed eight victories with one draw in their 11 games so far. Their most recent outing was a 1-0 win away at likely fellow promotion contenders, Östers, last weekend.
GIF Sundsvall were, alongside Helsingborg, automatically relegated from the top-flight in 2022. They were and are expected to challenge for automatic promotion this season, especially after beginning the campaign with back-to-back victories.
However, they have been quite inconsistent and, frankly, a bit underwhelming since those early victories. The visitors’ 3-0 hammering at the hands of GAIS, who are strong but were two leagues lower than GIF Sundsvall last season, means they have managed just three wins in their previous nine Superettan matches.
Despite being at the top-of-the-table and GIF Sundsvall sitting in mid-table, Utsiktens are overperforming their underlying data and it would seem that their current run of five successive victories is unsustainable. With that in mind, backing against the league leaders at home certainly could provide some excellent value, as they look to get their promotion challenge back on track.
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