Molde v Sogndal
MFK won last week away against Tromso and it was a vital success because it snapped a poor three game period in which they struggled. In terms of performance, their overall display was very encouraging too.
A trip to Tromso is never easy but they dominated their opponents in all areas. MFK were favourites on a DNB Asian handicap that day which looked short, but ultimately they did deserve their favouritism tag. With third or even second place still up for grabs, it proved that Molde are still well and truly up for the fight and look set to finish well down the stretch.
It’s been a strange campaign for Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s men but there’s still plenty of quality within their ranks. The defensive duo of Jonna Toivio and Vegard Forren are likely out for the rest of the season, whilst fellow man at the back Ruben Gabrielsen is suspended.
The visitors have enjoyed a strong return to the top flight and just 1 loss in 6 games has effectively secured their survival. Sogndal can now relax and coach Eirik Bakke deserves plenty of credit for what’s been a smooth, relatively trouble free campaign.
Quite how Sogndal will play now remains to be seen. It might be they relax and open up a bit more and enjoy a strong finish, but realistically they have little to play for and a mid-table berth is virtually set in stone. Maybe they might over relax now that the hard work is done.
This is a team which relies on a solid defence, good organisation and discipline and that can be hard to maintain right until the end of the campaign when the pressure is off. Team news is favourable and they have no major injuries or suspensions.
Conclusion & betting analysis
The previous meeting between the two teams this season ended in a crazy 4-3 win for Sogndal. However, it was a match that the promoted team completely dominated and Molde were embarrassed in that contest. I’m sure they will want some revenge here and should be buoyed by their excellent win at Tromso last time out. Sogndal can’t be underestimated but Molde are the better team and are usually really strong at home.
The other big factor to consider here is motivation. This is Norway, so teams will always play for some sort of pride. Sogndal won’t just roll over, but the incentive is really there for Molde to claim a medal and therefore a European position. It’s not out of the question they could finish second and I think they will claim a comfortable win here.
MFK can be backed on a -1 Asian handicap line close to the 2.10 mark. I think this is generous enough. At worst, I’d be expecting a push out of this selection.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Molde -1 Asian handicap @ 2.14
Brann v Lillestrom
The Bergen outfit have enjoyed a superb return to the top league and still reside in second place.
They did well to obtain a 0-0 draw at Sogndal prior to the international break, especially considering the fact they played most of the match with 10 men. They have become a solid away team but it’s here at home where they have a phenomenal record.
Their statistics read 9-3-0 and in total Brann have only conceded two goals in front of their own fans so far! This is pretty ridiculous, but it just shows how much of a fortress this place actually is.
Centre back Bismar Acosta is suspended yet again, but everyone else should be available for selection. Brann have had some issues with injuries & suspensions recently, so will be relieved to have mostly a clean bill of health.
LSK obtained a massive victory away against relegation rivals Stabaek last time out (2-1). It snapped a horror run of eight games without a win and puts them back in the hunt to avoid automatic relegation. It is probably beyond them to finish outside of the bottom three now, but they could finish 14th and end up in the relegation playoff facing the side that finishes third in the OBOS-Ligaen.
New manager Arne Erlandsen hasn’t got long left to save the club and he won’t be aided by the suspension of midfielder Bonke Innocent.
The duo of Marius Lundemo & Mohamed Ofkir are both rated doubtful due to injury and this doesn’t help matters either. Erlandsen is famed for his long ball physical approach to games and this might give them somewhat of a chance again Brann, but this is going to be a really tough test for LSK away at such a difficult location.
Conclusion & betting analysis
Brann have a three point cushion to third placed Odd, so a draw would ensure that they remain in the silver medal spot, but they know this is the sort of match they can ill afford to fail in.
Lillestrom aren’t very good and although things have improved for them under a new boss, the extra class of Bran should shine through.
LSK are fighting for their lives but Brann are so dominant in home matches, monopolising possession and sometimes they can become impossible to break down. This probably won’t be a blowout win but Brann should pick up the three points.
The hosts can be backed on a -1 Asian Handicap around the 2.05 mark and this is my selection. There is probably a higher than normal chance of a push here because Brann have a major habit of winning matches by exactly one goal, but that wouldn’t be the worst outcome and something like a 2-0 or 3-0 win could easily occur.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Brann -1 Asian handicap @ 2.06
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