Molde v Stabaek
I went against Molde last week on a DNB handicap and was unlucky that they managed to equalise late against Sarpsborg (1-1). It was a match in which Molde were second best and a 1-0 win for Sarpsborg would’ve been a fair outcome. MFK are however my preseason tip for the title and its results like last week which is why they might have the mental ability to win the gold medal this year, able to graft out a result when playing second best. Molde always knew that a trip to Sarpsborg was going to be one of their toughest of the season anyway. Taking a point out of such a fixture in the way they did has to be classed as a major positive and also a morale booster. They will fancy themselves this weekend at home to a Stabaek side who have been flirting with relegation in many of the last few seasons.
The visitors, who are managed by ex Blackburn Rovers man Henning Berg managed to draw their first match 1-1 at home to Lillestrom. It was an extremely poor game of football played on a horrible grass surface which was constantly cutting up. Sadly for Stabaek they lost new striker Matthew Rusike who suffered a broken ankle and will now be out for 3-4 months. A lot of the Satabek players are good technically so they should enjoy a trip to the Aker Stadion and it will help them play their passing game more on an artificial pitch. However, Molde are simply a better team in terms of quality and are also much better physically in terms of strength. Stabaek possessed a horrible 1-5-9 away record last season which was the worst in the league. They really didn’t travel well at all.
Molde should be winning this match fairly comfortably in my opinion. The gulf in quality will likely be too much and they simply have too many weapons in all areas of the pitch. One interesting side-show will be that of Molde striker Ohi Omoijuanfo, who recently signed from Stabaek for roughly £1 million. It’s amazing how many old players come back to haunt their old clubs and if Ohi scored a goal or two here then I wouldn’t be at all surprised. The Molde defence doesn’t have the ability to keep things tight enough in my opinion. The overs are a possibility but I prefer taking Molde -1.25 in case 2-0 or 3-0 comes into play. MFK have some really good defenders in their squad now and could easily dominate and win to nil, so the handicap is probably the safer pick in my opinion.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Molde -1.25 at 1.850
Brann v Stromsgodset
Both teams were involved in 3-2 matches last week. Brann fell to a 2-3 defeat at Odd, whilst Godset beat Haugesund. In both cases, the scorelines weren’t particularly reflective. Many would think that both those games were typical Norwegian end to end encounters. However, it just felt like every chance that was created ended up being scored! Quite a lot of the goals involved were from set pieces or generated from mistakes. Brann for the most part looked like a decent side last week and controlled the game for large periods. They looked surprisingly vulnerable from crosses which I really don’t understand and it’s something I expect them to sort out. Team selection was also a bit weird but I expect the likes of Daouda Bamba, Fredrik Haugen and maybe even Gilbert Koomson to return to the team this week. They simply didn’t have enough creative quality in their ranks against Odd but the manager can rectify that this weekend.
For me, it was a surprise that Stromsgodset beat Haugesund in the first round. They played alright but weren’t anything special. The signs of some mistakes at the back were apparent at times and in all honesty they didn’t create that many clear cut chances. The one big positive for them is the strike duo of ‘Mos’ and Marcus Pedersen. Both of these guys are quality at Eliteserien level and will always score goals if given proper service. I have seen it where neither can properly get into games though and become too isolated upfront. The exact same thing could happen against Brann this weekend and Godset have never been reliable away from home. Injury news for both teams is near enough a clean bill of health so there are few excuses in that department.
Brann are traditionally one of the really strong home teams in this league under the management of Lars Arne Nilsen. They aren’t the most eye catching of sides but can get the job done professionally. After having conceded three goals last weekend I would expect them to be much tighter here and geared up to keep a clean sheet. I don’t expect this will much of a classic by any means and the most likely scorelines are probably 1-0 or 2-0 Brann. Therefore, I prefer to take a -0.75 Asian Handicap on the hosts. Brann have won the last three H2H fixtures at this stadium and have only lost 1 of their last 7 against Godset anywhere. It’s a good matchup for the team from Bergen and I’m happy to back them here.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Brann -0.75 at 2.050
Preview by: @meatmansoccer.
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