Strømsgodset v Mjøndalen
Two big rivals meet at Marienlyst Stadium this Friday night for what will hopefully be a cracker of a fixture. Not too many Eliteserien games are scheduled for a Friday night in 2019 but this is one of the rare exceptions and it should only add to the fiery atmosphere. The two clubs are separated by just 8km, which is one of the shortest distances in Norwegian football. This fixture is named the ‘Buskerud Derby’ and it certainly lives up to the name. Do not underestimate the hate between these two teams. Many people may think of Norwegian football as quite timid and friendly, but there is absolutely no love loss when these sides meet. The last time it happened was in 2017 when Mjøndalen won 2-1 in a cup tie. The last league meeting between the two was back in 2015.
It’s due to Mjøndalen’s promotion why this fixture is back on the Eliteserien calendar again. Back in 2015 they were immediately relegated after just one season in the top flight. Based on the start they’ve had this year then a similar outcome might occur again unless they can start improving. MIF lost their opening clash 0-2 away at Valerenga and followed it up with a wild 4-5 defeat at home to Bodo/Glimt last week. It has to be a major concern that a defence which was so tight in the second tier OBOS Ligaen last season, suddenly looks so porous. I would say this is due a combination of system, style and having to adapt to the extra class in a league above. The main positives for Mjøndalen are a very hardworking squad and one that possess quite a lot of physical strength. They scored three goals all from set pieces last week and are a massive threat in the air with some big players.
Strømsgodset have enjoyed a good start to the season picking up four points from their two games. On paper, this should be an easier fixture than the likes of Haugesund and Brann. They are -0.75 Asian Handicap favourites around the 1.85 mark. That is certainly not a price I would want to put anyone off backing because the home team are definitely the most likely winners here. There seems to be more of a steely nature about them this season, helped massively by the signing of ex Aston Villa man Yacouba Sylla who has definitely caught the eye so far. The pick I like for this match is over 2.75 goals. Historically, it’s the sort of fixture that always seems to contain goals. Passions run high and there’s a frantic nature about how it operates. I can’t trust the Mjøndalen defence at all right now but I think they could grab a goal somewhere and at least cause a big threat from set pieces. Something like a 3-1 or 3-2 home win seems possible here. I am certainly hoping it will be an open and exciting fixture leading to goals!
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Over 2.75 goals at 1.900
Sarpsborg v Lillestrøm
Both teams head into the match unbeaten so far and can be fairly happy with their respective starts to the season. Sarpsborg were very impressive against Molde in the opening round but succumbed to a late equaliser and all of their hard was was undone. Their fixture at Haugesund last week was more of a physical test in what was quite a low key game on a tricky grass surface. A draw probably has to be considered a good result after such a hard graft. Sarpsborg will know its time they got a win on the board, especially as it looks like the Eliteserien top three spots are right up for grabs in 2019. Here in front of their own fans on a slick artificial surface Geir Bakke’s side are usually very strong and a repeat of the sort of performance against Molde would probably be enough to see off Lillestrøm.
The visitors might have to adapt their game this week. Both of their first two matches have been played on an absolute dog of a grass surface. The first round at Stabaek was actually dangerous for the players and resorted in a serious injury to Matthew Rusike. Last week meanwhile, I’ve seen more grass on an Indian cricket wicket than on the pitch at Lillestrøm’s own stadium vs Ranheim! This is perhaps something that suits LSK though. They have a lot of physical players who are happy to play long ball tactics when needed. Some of the more technical individuals will be happy to be operating on an artificial surface this week. Lillestrøm aren’t a bad side, but they aren’t great either. Beating Ranheim 2-1 doesn’t really tell us an awful lot because they are expected to be one of the worst outfits in the league.
The visitors have yet to play a decent team this year and I expect Sarpsborg will have too much for them here. For the hosts, this represents a much easier affair compared to previous opponents and they should be able to cash in. Perhaps the one question mark comes in the goalscoring department. The likes of Jorgen Strand Larsen were scoring goals for fun in pre season, but himself and Steffen Lie Skalevik have yet to light things up in the Eliteserien. We have to consider the fact that Sarpsborg have face some good defences thus far and opportunities should be in better supply this weekend. I think Sarpsborg are underrated here and should be a pure -1 Asian Handicap favourite. Instead, they can be backed on a -0.75 line around the even money mark. This offers some good value and they have the quality to register their first victory of the season.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Sarpsborg -0.75 at 2.010
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