Brann v Stabaek
The last time we saw Brann in the league they failed to beat Mjondalen at home, dropping points in a 0-0 draw. This can be a real problem for them against teams that sit deep and make themselves difficult to penetrate. Brann do lack creativity and have even been criticised by some of their own players for being ‘too negative’. Head coach Lars Arne Nilsen often splits opinions with his more pragmatic approach. As things stand, Brann are seven points off the top of the table but in my personal opinion they are far too inconsistent to make a challenge for the title. At the time of writing the result of their Europa League match on Thursday night away against Shamrock Rovers isn’t known. The first leg was a poor one for Brann though as they conceded late and could only draw 2-2 with the Irish side. Failure to progress through on aggregate would only add to some of their miseries heading into this fixture.
Stabaek travel here on the back of a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Sarpsborg on Monday night. They came from 1-3 down in what was a wild encounter. Since new head coach Jan Jonsson returned to the hot seat they’ve only lost 2 matches and picked 8 points out of 6 games, which isn’t a bad return for a team that was languishing well down the table. Key striker Franck Boli continues to be a frustrating player by both scoring goals, but also missing some big chances. In the last 10 days alone he missed a huge one on one vs Odd and then a penalty vs Sarpsborg. Stabaek were missing a few players on Monday night such as left back Jeppe Moe. I’m not sure who will be back available for them here yet but the defence looked really vulnerable on Monday night and also against Odd last week.
I personally don’t think either team can be relied upon right now. Brann are far too inconsistent and especially at home have dropped a lot of sloppy points. They are heading into the match off a short week of rest and travelling to Ireland in the Europa League on Thursday. Both mental and physical fatigue could be an issue. Stabaek meanwhile, aren’t playing too badly but they make a lot of mistakes which could cost them at any time. Goalkeeper Marcus Sandberg has been enjoying an excellent season but he can’t save them in every match as Monday night proved. The pick I am going to take for this game is over 2.5 goals. This is a bit of a risk if Brann continue to misfire but I don’t think Stabaek will come here to defend. They have enough dangerous players on the break to cause Brann problems and I think both teams will score. Brann are -1 Asian Handicap favourites but rarely cover this sort of handicap even if they win matches. So the home team are best swerved and backing the goals looks like the best way to go.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.50 goals at 1.870
Molde v Sarpsborg
Title favourites Molde have slipped up a bit recently. They dominated a match against Brann yet somehow only drew 1-1, then they blew a 2-0 lead away at Odd and pegged back to another draw. Other results have gone their way recently, such as Odd losing against Mjondalen and Glimt getting hammered 6-0 by Valerenga. The looming figure of Rosenborg are just starting to show their face behind though, now only 6 points adrift. Molde have to be careful that they don’t keep dropping silly points, starting this weekend at home to Sarpsborg. MFK were in action in the midweek Europa League, but had a massive 6-1 advantage to take to Iceland so I don’t expect that trip to have been very taxing on their overall system. I would imagine the priority gameplan this week was this league match which they really need to focus on.
Sarpsborg are currently second bottom of the table and are massively underachieving. They should have won on Monday night but blew a 3-1 lead away against relegation rivals Stabaek. To even class Sarpsborg as a relegation candidate is absolutely ridiculous, but that is the realistic position we are in right now! Geir Bakke’s men have only won two games all season which simply isn’t good enough for a squad of their quality. Yes, they have had some injuries but results are well below par. I don’t think they have looked *that* poor and at times I’d say bad luck has hit them hard. In terms of performances, the team doesn’t look as flat compared to say Stromsgodset. But confidence is clearly low and they just need to get some wins on the board. One problem is that their next three fixtures are against Molde, Rosenborg & Bodo Glimt, all three of whom are doing well in the league and will be difficult opponents.
This is the last Norwegian Eliteserien match until August 3rd so there will be a two week break in proceedings. Molde know how important it is to take 3 points out of this game, and I fully expect them to deliver. MFK have a 6-1-0 home record this season, scoring 19 goals and conceding just 3. That record would still read 100% had they taken their chances against Brann in a match which if replayed I think they’d win 9 times out of 10. Bottom line is that Molde are extremely strong at the Aker Stadion this season and can clearly be relied upon in front of their own fans. Head to head record is perhaps the only negative. Sarpsborg are unbeaten in their last 8 fixtures against Molde, so there is clearly something about this matchup that they like. The last five league encounters have all been draws. This time around Molde look in much better state though and I think backing them on a -1 Asian Handicap makes a lot of sense. Sarpsborg are making too many mistakes at the moment and don’t seem in good enough form to get anything out of this clash.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Molde -1.00 at 1.870
Preview by: @meatmansoccer.