Fredrikstad v Ranheim
It is now four consecutive defeats for Fredrikstad who have been one of the big disappointments of the season. A lot more was expected of FFK this year after they finished in the playoffs last term, but Björn Johansen’s men are way down in 12th place. The manager himself is definitely under some pressure and needs a positive result soon. The big problem for Fredrikstad has been in defensive areas where they have the fifth worst xGA in the league (35.34). They have been lucky to only concede 31 times but in recent weeks have been especially porous, letting in 13 goals in their last four games. FFK have a very mixed home record of 3 wins, 3 draws and 3 defeats. Because they are in poor form being at home might be to their disadvantage if the fans start getting on their back. Fredrikstad always have plenty of goals in them and rank 5th best in xG metrics out of any team in the league. The home team have already lost key midfielder Adnan Hadzic to Danish club Sonderjyske during this transfer window. They have however signed Lucas Lima from Swedish Allsvenskan side Norrköping. He scored last week during the 3-4 loss to Åsane. Key centre back Oscar Jansson was sent off in that fixture and as a result will be suspended here.
Ranheim are very much in the mix for promotion this season. They are currently second in the table and have 37 points. There are several teams in with a chance of getting second spot behind Brann and the team from Trondheim have to believe they can beat off their rivals. Ranheim have won 5 out of 9 away matches this season but did lose their most recent road affair 0-1 to struggling Skeid. It was a strange match and they just struggled to get their attack firing. When facing more defensive minded teams who sit deep then Ranheim can sometimes have issues. That should not be a problem here though and it will suit them to be away from home where they can counter-attack sometimes. It has been a fairly quiet transfer window for Ranheim so far, but the signing of Sondre Stokke from Stjørdals-Blink could be a decent one. He scored six goals in a poor team prior to his move and will add to their squad depth in attacking areas.
Ranheim have only kept two clean sheets this season and are generally a magnet for both teams to score matches. The way that Fredrikstad are defending then it would be a surprise if Ranheim did not hit the back of the net either. Over 2.5 goals are usually a good bet whenever Ranheim are involved. 15 of their 19 matches have contained at least 3 goals this season. The best bet does look to be both teams to score though because it covers the 1-1 draw. Fredrikstad need to end their losing run so might possibly take that outcome if they were offered it right now.
KFUM Oslo v Sandnes
Both sides have been enjoying a good season and this is a battle between 5th and 3rd in the table. KFUM Oslo have been in mixed form recently but picking up 7 points from their last 3 games is a decent return. Their victory against fellow playoff rivals Sogndal 2-1 away from home last week would have been a major confidence boost. No team has been involved in more over 2.5 goal matches than KFUM Oslo this season with a massive 16 out of 19 fixtures ending with at least three goals. They have a very serviceable attack force which has the 4th best xG out of any team in the division, averaging 1.96 per match. At the other end of the field their xGA is 27.36, which is actually the second best, but nobody apart from Brann in the OBOS Ligaen has anything close to a solid defence. KFUM have added centre back Ayoub Aleesami from Fredrikstad where he has mostly been on the bench in recent weeks. So far, that is the only transfer either in or out of the club this August window.
The big shock of the previous round was Sandnes only drawing 0-0 vs struggling Skeid. The previous two Sandnes home games had resulted in 6-0 wins but for some reason they just couldn’t get into their stride and break down a resolute defence. Perhaps the short turnaround in matches last week was too draining on the team but there is no doubt that there is a great goal scoring potential in this side. Sandnes have racked up 37 goals this season which is the second most of any team in the league. There are some doubts at the other end of the field where they have lost two defenders to transfers this window. Right back Fredrik Palerud moved to Eliteserien side Sandefjord, whilst centre back Stale Saethre was acquired by HJK Helsinki. Palerud was especially a key man, and it looks like Sandnes are banking on Herman Kleppa to fill his boots after a recent move from Mjøndalen. It is a surprise to see KFUM Oslo as a clear odds-on favourite for this match considering Sandnes have won 6 out of 9 away games this season.
This is the sort of fixture which is screaming out for goals. Over 2.5 at 1.50 or over 3.5 at an even bigger price will be very popular selections here and will more than likely prevail. Considering both teams to score is at 1.44 though and not much less than the over 2.5 price, then I think this is the best bet. Each of these sides has only had one solitary 1-1 draw this season, but that is the one potential danger score should over 2.5 goals not land. Sandnes have actually kept 3 clean sheets in their last 4 games, but KFUM have only failed to hit the back of the net in one match all season. Either team could win, and a high scoring draw can’t be ruled out. It would be a surprise if both teams don’t find the back of the net at some stage.
Stjørdals-Blink v Stabaek
The problems Stjørdals-Blink have endured this season both on and off the pitch have been well documented. The club was close to financial meltdown until emergency measures were agreed by the playing squad and management to move to a minimum wage salary for the rest of the campaign. It came at a cost though because six important regular first team players all left the club. Blinks have added centre back Lars Valderhaug from lower league side Byasen but he has sat on the bench in each of the last two games. The club has had a brief resurgence on the field by beating Grorud 1-0 and then surprising everyone by drawing 2-2 away to Raufoss last week. They were outplayed for most of that contest last week but managed to fight hard and earn a point. Blinks have been one of the worst sides all season in the OBOS Ligaen though and have conceded a massive 40 goals in 19 games. At the other end of the field their 18 goals scored is the worst attack in the division. The club from Trondheim, who are a semi-professional outfit have lost a massive 8 out of 9 home games this season.
Stabaek travel here as an understandable short-priced favourite. They are one of the best teams in this division and 4th in the standings. Brann are away and gone at the top of the OBOS Ligaen, but Stabaek would still fancy their chances of getting the second automatic promotion spot. The visitors have the third best xG in the division (37.43) but have only converted that into 35 goals. It is only a slight underachievement, but you expect the better sides to actually overachieve this metric rather than the other way around. They lost promising attacker Oliver Edvardsen to Dutch club Go Ahead Eagles last month but have now permanently signed young Nigerian striker Gift Emmanuel Orban who has had a great season scoring 9 goals and suppling 3 assists. Stabaek have the second best away record in the OBOS Ligaen, winning 6 out of 10 times. They have actually travelled better this year and obtained more points away than at home.
This is an obvious bet but Stabaek to win at 1.40 really should be a banker. Even at the best of times they should have far too much for Stjørdals-Blink who have all sorts of struggles to contend with. Blinks did win their most recent home match but that was against a 10 man Grorud team who are still winless this season. Stabaek are a different class altogether and it would be a surprise if the hosts get close to their opponents. The reverse fixture in early July ended 4-1 to Stabaek and a similar sort of scoreline can’t be ruled out again. Even if Stabaek only claim a tighter win it would be a big surprise if they didn’t collect all three points.
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