The newcomers Sundsvall were off to a good start at the beginning of the season however, over the last two matches their fine form have taken a stumble especially when it comes to scoring. Perhaps can the return home help the team find the groove again. Elfsborg did what was expected from them when they bounced back convincingly against Kalmar and even though the score line was 2-1, it could and should have been two or three more in the opponents net. Elfsborg once again showed that they thrive the best on artificial turf after their slump on natural grass.
While Sundsvall began with an impressive offense in the opening rounds, it has been difficult for the newcomers to find the net recently as they sit on two straight 2-0 losses against Djurgarden and Helsingborg on the road. Performance wise on the pitch it has looked promising, but still without that last finishing touch which was the case against Helsingborg, where in fact Sundsvall controlled the first half entirely but still managed to leave empty handed. This season will be a learning year for Sundsvall, who have a capable team but need to mature in Allsvenskan before they can contend with the upper half teams. After the long trip back home up north, Sundsvall need to embrace the challenge to face title contenders Elfsborg – though, even if Sundsvall have the home advantage, it is never an advantage to play on artificial turf specialists Elfsborg. It is mentioned every time, that seeing Elfsborg play on grass and artificial turf is two completely different worlds in performances, and therefore Sundsvall must be defensively solid to perfection if any points should be credited in this meeting. Offensively, the key piece Pa Dibba is dangerous with the ability to use his body, hold the ball to create longer attacks and also a threat around the penalty area. Though, Sundsvall’s biggest worry in this enocunter is likely the time of possession, and even if they managed to dictate against Helsingborg for longer periods, Elfsborg is a very comfortable collective on this surface and goes straight towards goal without dragging out the attacks.
Newcomers are always extremely excited at the beginning of the seasons, which was the same case for Sundsvall who managed to put a couple of good results on a string. It seems the excitement has calmed down and we can now see the real side of the teams. Sundsvall with two straight losses should not be underestimated but also, not be carried away by their wins so far. Injury wise, the hosts will miss midfielder Simon Helg (4/1) for a couple of weeks, and also defender Joakim Nilsson (3/1) is questionable, and same with striker Leo Englund (4/1).
The visitors Elfsborg did well versus Kalmar and the same players keeps delivering quality up front with talent Arber Zeneli who continues to impress with the pace and trickery which surely has led to foreign clubs keeping their eyes on this prospect. There are many threats going forward with their powerful style of play, most often likes to use the flanks on the field to attack with a lot of pace before entering the penalty area where striker Per Frick is the target man.
On the midfield, the creative Viktor Claesson have added a new aspect of his development by being more dangerous on the finishing end and not only providing assists anymore. The Elfsborg icon and former national team player Anders Svensson has been transformed to a defender and is doing well on his new role. Looking at the above, the pieces are in place and continues to show strong performances especially on artificial turf which will be the case here too. More positive news for Elfsborg is that they get back defenders Jon Jonsson and Jesper Manns ahead of this encounter with the newcomer. On the injury front for the visitors, only striker Lasse Nilsson will be out for a couple of days. However, his position has been well covered by Per Frick up front.
The team names almost explain themselevs and so does the ambitions for each side. Sundsvall are here to survive, while Elfsborg participate to challenge for the title, and as a title contender you can not afford to drop points against newcomers, especially not when Malmo looks stronger than in many years and are expected to win the title by a comfortable margin. Elfsborg can only prevent this by winning their own games and even if it is early, these can be decisive points in the end. Overall there is a class difference of quality and not least – experience, which I regard highly in Elfsborgs favour. The form is pointing in the right direction for the visitors while the hosts are seeking their groove, but should not expect a dominance here. I believe the visitors stand good chances to claim a victory and the price is just on the verge of being attractive.
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