After a disappointing loss versus bottom feeders Halmstad, the top candidates Elfsborg now returns home to their comfort zone to strike back from the hiddeous performance. Kalmar will try to get a grip of their away struggles as they have lost both road games so far and frankly not been close to claim any points.
The story line and probably one of the main factors in this encounter will be the stadium and its surface. The hosts Elfsborg experienced a shocking loss against the bottom side Halmstad away. The loss was not reflected on the pitch where Elfsborg had more chances but could not find the same speed as they usually do at home. The main reason for this is Elfsborg’s inability to perform on natural grass as for example Halmstad use on their stadium. This slows down their passing game, makes the runs a bit heavier in the legs and even if it sounds like minimal factors, it is proven that Elfsborgs point average is massively decreased when they play on natural grass instead of their own artificial turf. Luckily for them, they have a chance to regroup and put in a stong performance at home this time against a struggling road team.
So far for Elfsborg their key players have stepped up and especially the young talent Arber Zeneli who is very quick and tricky to catch on the side midfield. Striker Per Frick is powerful and works hard towards the defenders, while midfielder Simon Hedlund have started to produce goals and the creative mind Victor Claesson makes up for a dangerous midfield. The Elfsborg defense has not been tested heavily so far and chances are they will not have to worry too much about defense when they are expected to dictate going forward. Moreover, Kalmar is not the most offensive side to exploit or tear other defenses apart but rather rely on a stong collective performance. The hosts will be without central defender Jon Jonsson (0/0) and young wing back Jesper Manns (2/0).
Kalmar have been a disappointment so far with very mixed performances. Home and away is like day and night for this side who enters the season with a new coach who arrived from Atvidaberg, and the team looks very solid on paper with the Elm brothers reuinted which was a huge boost for the entire city of Kalmar and expectations immediately increased. The home performances have been of good standard, though still lack the offensive creativity that they normally should be able to display more of.
Kalmar have played two away matches on artificial surface and lost both against Gefle and Djurgarden. Now, they will face a tougher test against the artificial specialists Elfsborg and that is not an easy task for anybody in the league. The Kalmar coach Stefan Swardh believes to know what is needed to steal a point. – We have to make sure we dare to possess the ball on their half and have long attacks and not just panic like we did against Djurgarden, he says. The visitors will be without wing defender Emin Nouri (5/0) who is suspended. Also midfielder Rasmus Elm remains out. His brother, striker Viktor Elm (5/2) has stomach discomforts but is included in the squad. Midfielder Ismael (5/0) is also a doubt but included as well.
Knowing Elfsborg, they are very energetic at home with a quick tempo with their high pressure and passing tempo which often is reflected in their ‘straight towards the goal’ mentality. Elfsborg rarely waste their chances and rather take a shot from far out instead of the 50/50 long ball pass. Kalmar have struggled to keep up with these kind of teams and rarely gets much out of their offense themselves. Personally I like the spots after Elfsborg have shown a let down previous performance, they tend to repair themselves quickly and I give my trust on their home soil to give Kalmar a lesson because frankly they are one class above Kalmar when everything is clicking. Two or three goals is what I expect from the hosts, which should be enough to cover the line of -1 AH and also offers good coverage.
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