Five things we learned this week in Scandinavia

Midtjylland thrash Hobro to assert their dominance at the top of the Danish Superliga

It has been a fantastic start to the season for Midtjylland. With only two defeats in their opening 10 games of the campaign, and with the other eight games all ending in victory, Glen Riddersholm’s side have been more than making up for last season’s late slump that saw them lose the title in the cruelest, and closest, of fashion.

After bouncing back from a 2-1 defeat away to an almost equally as strong Nordsjælland side by winning 1-0 against Vestsjælland last week, Midtjylland further asserted their dominance this weekend by thrashing fourth-place Hobro 5-1, thanks to a wonderful hat-trick scored by Morten Nicolas Rasmussen and first-half goals from Jakob Poulsen and Pione Sisto, the latter of whom has, at the age of just 19, now scored three goals in eight starts for the Herning club, half as many as he managed in the entirety of last season.

Midtjylland’s wealth of talent in front of goal is plain to see, as they have now scored 23 goals in 10 games, eight more than Nordsjælland and a huge 14 more than Randers, who sit six points behind in third place.

Midtjylland were also helped this weekend by Randers’ goalless draw on Sunday against Nordsjælland, who before this week had won their last three games in a row and were slowly but surely starting to put pressure on the league leaders.

Four points now separate the two sides, and Midtjylland have the perfect opportunity to keep the gap as it is after the international break in two weeks’ time when they face Silkeborg, who remain in bottom place and without a win so far this season after they were beaten 2-0 by Odense, who, as a result, exit the relegation zone and climb up to tenth place, sending Esbjerg, who were unable to extend their unbeaten run to four games and instead had to leave Parken empty handed after losing 2-1 against København on Sunday.


A thrilling game at Friends Arena ends in Malmö FF’s second consecutive Allsvenskan title

It never looked as if the conclusion was going to be any different, but this weekend Malmö FF officially wrapped up their second consecutive Allsvenskan title, their third in the last five seasons and the 18th in their history, bringing an end to a fantastic season in which, so far, they have only been beaten twice.

The confirming of the Allsvenskan crown was the icing on the cake, as Wednesday evening saw them pick up a fantastic, and truly historic, 2-0 win at home to Olympiakos, their first in the group stage of the competition since its introduction in 1992. It was fitting that both the night’s two goals and the 86th-minute winner in their 3-2 victory away to AIK on Sunday were scored by in-form striker Markus Rosenberg, who has now scored 21 goals – 13 of which have come in the league – since his return to the Swedish club from West Bromwich Albion this summer.

After playing such a vital role for the club this season, Rosenberg’s inclusion on the scoresheet was well deserved, wrapping up an emphatic league title win in the most fitting of ways.

In truth, Malmö FF only needed to draw against AIK to claim the title, as defeats for all of the four clubs that sit directly behind them meant that second-place IFK Göteborg went into this weekend nine points behind the league leaders and came out the other side twelve points behind after a shocking 3-0 defeat against relegation candidates Norrköping, whilst Elfsborg and Häcken were beaten 5-1 and 2-1 by Örebro and Falkenberg, respectively, in equally astonishing circumstances.

As a result, just four points separate IFK Göteborg and fifth-place Häcken heading into the final three games of the season, whilst Örebro, who have now won seven of their last eight league games, and Helsingborg, who comfortably beat struggling Kalmar 4-1 at home on Friday, remain firmly part of the fight for a Europa League qualification spot.


Mjällby drop back into the relegation zone after a shock defeat at home to Brommapojkarna

Fantastic, and much needed, wins for Norrköping and Falkenberg also caused havoc at the bottom of the table, where five sides are still fighting to avoid relegation to Superettan.

As a result, Mjällby find themselves back in the relegation zone alongside Brommapojkarna after they were surprisingly beaten 1-0 by the bottom side, who before this weekend had only won once so far this season and sat 19 points behind Mjällby at the foot of the table, already relegated to Superettan after a torrid season in which they found themselves out of their depth from start to finish.

This weekend’s shocking victory means that Mjällby now sit one point behind Gefle, Falkenberg and Norrköping, who are all tied on 29 points as we enter the last three games of the season, and four points behind Halmstad, whose safety has not yet been confirmed after they were beaten 3-1 by Åtvidaberg on Sunday.

Whilst Norrköping’s win was arguably the most impressive of the weekend, Gefle also pulled off a remarkable victory against Djurgården, narrowly beating the seventh-place side 2-1 thanks to a late Simon Lundevall penalty to bring an end to their three-game losing streak.

All five sides face tough clashes in their final games of the season, but the most important is arguably Gefle and Norrköping’s tie at Strömvallen after the international break, as a win there for either side could prove to be enough to save them from dropping down to the second tier.

However, this battle to avoid relegation looks as if it is going to go down to the wire, meaning that Falkenberg’s game at home to Mjällby on the final day of the season could prove to be a winner takes all clash that would finally bring an end to what has been a fascinating, and intense, scrap between five incredibly determined sides.

Molde wrap up their third Tippeligaen title in the last four seasons with a hard-fought win away to Viking

Like Malmö FF, Molde always looked far too strong for any of the other Tippeligaen sides to deal with this season, and, as expected, this weekend they confirmed their third title in the last four years with a narrow, but well deserved, 2-1 victory away to Viking.

The win, which was wrapped up by Björn Bergmann Sigurðarson in the 78th minute after Herolind Shala had equalised from the penalty spot 18 minutes into the second half, means that Molde finish the week 13 points clear of second-place Odd, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Aalesund, bringing an end to their aspirations – albeit slim ones – of catching Molde at the last minute to claim their first ever league title.

As a result, the draw, which occurred after Frode Johnsen’s second-half brace was cancelled out by Akeem Latifu, who scored his first ever goal for Aalesund in the 91st minute to salvage a point for the struggling side, means that Odd are now solely involved in a fight for second place with Rosenborg and Strømsgodset, although, realistically, the battle only involves the former, who sit four points behind in third place after they won 2-0 against a Lillestrøm side that have now lost three of their last four league games.

As for Strømsgodset, ninth-place Sarpsborg 08 held them to a goalless draw on Sunday afternoon, meaning that they now sit a further four points behind Rosenborg in fourth place.

Brann’s troubles continue, leaving them in the relegation zone for a second week in a row

Whilst things are becoming increasingly less fierce at the top of the table, the battle to avoid relegation to the Norwegian 1st Division remains in full swing, as any of the bottom six sides could drop to the second tier over the coming four weeks.

A few weeks ago it looked as if a string of good results was going to give Brann the momentum to pull off a late push out of the bottom two, but three games without a win, which includes this weekend’s 2-1 defeat at home to Start, has left them in the relegation zone for a second consecutive week.

They remain one point behind Sogndal, who stay in the relegation play-off spot in 14th place after they were beaten 2-1 by Vålerenga this weekend, but are now four points behind Haugesund, who beat bottom side Sandnes Ulf 2-0 on Sunday thanks to second-half goals from Maic Sema and Daniel Bamberg.

The win, their second in their last three league games, means that they finish the week in 13th place ahead of tough back-to-back clashes against Molde and Strømsgodset, whilst Brann desperately need a win against Sarpsborg 08 after the international break to avoid falling further towards relegation.

11th-place Aalesund and 12th-place Bodø/Glimt are arguably also still contenders for relegation, as they both sit just six points clear of the relegation zone, but both sides were able to pick up important draws this weekend, with the latter side’s coming against Stabæk on Sunday.

They almost picked up their first league victory since the end of August, one that would have moved them above Aalesund and to within just one point of Viking, but Finnish defender Ville Jalasto – a former Aalesund player, ironically – was on hand to ruin their celebrations at the final moment, equalising for Bob Bradley’s visitors in the 91st minute.

As a result, Bodø/Glimt’s search for a much needed ninth victory of the season goes on, and they face Odd after the international break before what is sure to be a fierce and exciting clash at home to Brann in three weeks’ time.

The Author

Ben Cullimore

Freelance journalist and long-suffering non-league fan.

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