Sarpsborg v Odd
The first fixture of this Eliteserien matchday sees Odd travel to Sarpsborg in what should be an intriguing game of football. Both sides have new managers for this season and have started with some promising results. Odd have won two and lost two fixtures so far which is acceptable. They would have been disappointed to suffer a 2-3 home defeat to Aalesund in their most recent game, but they faced a side who sat back, and it didn’t suit Odd’s gameplan of counter-attacking very well. New manager Paco Johansen has been using a fluid and adaptable 5-4-1 formation which looks especially dangerous when winning the ball back quickly. Apart from veteran defender Steffen Hagen who is slightly doubtful with injury, Odd should be at full strength here.
Sarpsborg have 7 points after 4 games and their most recent victory was an impressive 5-2 win away to Tromsø. That was perhaps a freak game of football in which they simply took all of their chances though. Tromsø actually outgunned them 1.86 to 1.27 on xG and all Sarpsborg did was counter-attack extremely efficiently against a side that gave them way too much space and played a crazy high line. I cannot see Odd being so naive and it will be much harder to sometimes have to break down a back line of five defenders. It is worth noting that Sarpsborg have yet to win at home this season, losing against Viking and then drawing to Rosenborg. Captain and key left back Joachim Thomassen could be ruled out with a thigh injury.
I think it is a big surprise by Sarpsborg are odds-on favourites to win this match at a price of 1.73. Ok, maybe they might get the 3 points, but they have no right to be favoured by such a margin. These two teams are very evenly matched, and I would say there is a very good chance of a draw in this fixture. There is definite value in backing the visitors on a double chance X2 bet. In their one previous away game, Odd lost 0-1 at Rosenborg but were the better team and I think tactically they are set up much better in this fixture. I am expecting the visitors to pick up at least a point against a potentially overrated Sarpsborg outfit.
Molde v Viking
The headline match of the Eliteserien round this week comes from the Aker Stadion where Molde take on a confident Viking side. Both teams are expected to challenge for the title this season, but Molde need to get back on track after failing to win any of their last two league matches. They fell to a shock defeat at home to Lillestrøm in their most recent home affair (1-2) and then could only draw 0-0 away to Rosenborg. There was great cause for Molde celebrations last weekend though when they won the Norwegian Cup by beating Bodø/Glimt 1-0 in the final. They can surely take a boost from that fixture, although the news that attacker Eirik Ulland Andersen is ruled out for the rest of the season with an ACL injury is less than ideal.
Viking have won 4 of their 5 matches played and are the highest scoring team in the Eliteserien with ten goals. They have played one game more than most sides but their xG of 11.70 is also the highest and this team is full of goals. With the likes of Veton Berisha, and Zlatko Tripic in their squad they will always carry a huge threat. There is something about Viking this season which makes me think they are for real and desperate to challenge for the Eliteserien gold medal. They finished 3rd last season but rather than be content for that spot again there is a general feeling that they want more in 2022. Tripic is the main injury doubt for Viking ahead of the match and it’s 50/50 if he will be fit enough to play.
Sparks always seem to fly when these two teams face each other. 7 of the last 8 meetings have ended with both teams scoring and over 2.5 goals, which isn’t surprising because these are two heavyweights of Norwegian football who will want to land a knockout blow on each other. Over 2.5 is not the greatest price in the world but does look like the obvious selection here based on the strength of both teams and past history. This is not the banker it once was due to Molde’s change of formation and Viking’s improved defence but there should be at least three goals from this fixture.
Strømsgodset v Rosenborg
It has been a worrying start to the season for Strømsgodset who have lost 3 of their opening 4 matches. Their lone victory was against Haugesund who have been even worse, and their most recent match ended in a shocking 0-5 defeat at home to Sandefjord. It must be said that Godset finished the 2021 campaign quite poorly and they have continued that form to the start of this season. The managerial duo of Hakon Wibe-Lund and Bjorn Petter Ingebretsen generally worked well in the previous year but this is perhaps now a situation where they would be better with one set manager in charge. SIF need to rekindle the magic of Marienlyst where they are traditionally very strong at their own stadium. They’ve started this season here losing a combined 1-8 vs Molde and Sandefjord though. Godset have an xG of 6.40 but have only found the back of the net twice thus far, making this an area in which they’ve dramatically underachieved.
Rosenborg are one of just two remaining teams in the Eliteserien who have an unbeaten record. RBK have drawn 3 of their 4 fixtures but already faced the likes of Molde and Bodø/Glimt so will not be too dissatisfied with their points tally so far. Rosenborg have the worst xG of any side in the league, but this is not a surprise considering they have a new manager who is quite defensive minded, and also factoring the high standard of opposition they’ve faced. Kjetil Rekdal has come in and used a 3-4-1-2 formation which is totally the opposite of the traditional 4-3-3 employed by the club in recent decades. It has been impressive how more disciplined and compact Rosenborg have looked and twice already they’ve come from behind in matches to earn a draw. There is a more hardened mentality under Rekdal which will serve them well.
This is likely to be a tight game of football containing few chances and goals. Under 2.5 could definitely be a consideration but a better selection is probably Rosenborg on a draw no bet handicap. It is not a match I see them losing and they have become a difficult side to beat. Strømsgodset have very little confidence overall, especially in attack where they continue to miss a lot of chances. Rosenborg can pick them off on the break and probably keep a clean sheet in the process to win something like 1-0 or 2-0. This could turn into an ugly sort of match which has no rhythm, but it would be a surprise if the visitors lost, so taking a DNB handicap makes sense.
Ham Kam v Aalesund
This is a battle between two newly promoted sides who have both started the season well. It is quite an honour for them that this fixture has been given a ‘primetime’ early evening slot all on its own, so I am sure both teams are going to be really fired up. Ham Kam won the 2nd tier OBOS Ligaen last season and Aalesund finished just behind them. Ham Kam only lost two home matches in the whole of 2021 and one of them was in this exact fixture – so they will surely be set on revenge. The hosts have only lost one Eliteserien match thus far and comfortably beat Sandefjord 3-0 in their most recent match here at the Briskeby Arena. It has been noticeable how many chances at both ends of the field have been created in Ham Kam games with all of their fixtures ending with over 2.5 goals.
Aalesund have been a huge ‘yo-yo’ team in recent years. They could be comparable to the ‘Fulham or Norwich of Norway’ but in this campaign they definitely seem better equipped to survive. One of the main reasons for that is their manager Lars Arne Nilsen who is quite tactically astute, and his teams tend to be hard to break down. Aalesund have only kept one clean sheet this season but have defended strongly and the return of goalkeeper Sten Grytebust has been a major positive. They lost 0-2 away to Lillestrøm in their most recent match but only had an xGA of 1.07 in that fixture so were perhaps unfortunate.
Ham Kam midfielder Morten Bjørlo is expected to miss this match with injury, but he’s missed most of the last three games anyway. Aalesund are expected to be at full strength. This match could be a candidate for over 2.5 goals, but I think Ham Kam are worth backing to win. They have looked very strong in both of their first two home games and have been creating a lot of chances. The attacking duo of Kristian Eriksen and Jonas Enkerud are playing well, and they can feed off a passionate home crowd. I suspect they’ll have too much for a plucky Aalesund side who have lost 2 of their first 3 away games.
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