It’s back! After a quick holiday the Tippeliga returns and so does the preview, tackling important issues like Kjetil Rekdal’s holiday and the possibility of Patrick Walker getting a tan.
Start (4th) – Stabæk (5th)
First up, Start and Stabæk prepare for a sunny southern showdown at the lovely Sør Arena. The hosts are still having to make do without Clarence Goodson who is busy doing the whole Gold Cup-thing, but since Jesper Mathisen showed against Odd that he can play football after all that may not be such a crippling blow. Stabæk for their part are fresh from a convincing two-legged win over Tirana, the last game in particular was a fine performance and Stabæk looked very much like a team about to hit some form.
Sandefjord (11th) – Molde (2nd)
Apart from their lucky win over Fredrikstad in the last game before the vacation Sandefjord have looked very much like the Hull City of the Tippeliga: An inexplicably impressive start to the season followed by a total meltdown. Thankfully, their manager Partick Walker seems like a sound bloke who is unlikely to grow a goatee, get a radioactive tan or adopt any of the other embarrassing traits the world will remember Phil Brown for.
Viking (8th) – Lyn (16th)
Poor unfortunate Lyn-manager Kent Bergersen continues where he left off before the break, namely by sounding desperate and a bit mad. Already thoroughly doomed, Lyn have been forced to sell players like Theodor Elmar Bjarnason, Johan Dahlin and Christian Brink, which puts their already slim chances of survival at about the same level as Azar Karadas’ chances of winning the Nobel prize for literature. Bergersen has tried to put a bit of positive spin on this, suggesting that selling players could be good for squad unity. As mad as that sounds, he can’t really say “We’re buggered beyond belief and there’s no way we’re staying up” either. The silver lining for Lyn in this situation has to be that lumbering forward Lucas Pratto has also left the country, freeing up a spot of the team for a forward who doesn’t have the turn of a supertanker.
Tromsø (10th) – Strømsgodset ( 14th)
Fresh from their dismantling of Dinamo Minsk, the question for Tomsø is will their European exploits have gained them momentum or drained them of energy? If the latter is the case then they could well be in trouble here, because Ronny Deila’s plucky darlings will be geed up an desperate for points.
Vålerenga (7th) – Odd Grenland (3rd)
What will the second part of the season have in store for Mad Martin? Still being in charge at this point is actually quite a feat, as the bridge-enthusiast and occasional player/manager was reportedly one loss away form the sack earlier this season. Vålerenga’s home record isn’t terribly impressive (3-2-4), and Odd Grenland is unlikely to do them any favors here.
Brann (6th) – Bodø/Glimt (15th)
In spite of a rather patchy first part of the season Brann managed to pick up enough points to plant themselves pretty solidly in the top half of the table. Bodø/Glimt on the other hand were pretty damned shambolic at times and you worry what a fit and motivated Erik Huseklepp can do to the Glimt-defense.
Rosenborg (1st) – Lillestrøm (12th)
The only person outside of Trondheim who didn’t laugh when Rosenborg lost to Qarabagh this week will have been Henning Berg, whose Lillestrøm will now have to face an RBK-side desperate to show their fans that their Azerbaijani mishap was just an unfortunate anomaly.
Aalesund (9th) – Fredrikstad (13th)
A remarkably sanguine Kjetil Rekdal hasn’t really provided us with material for the weekly quiz “What’s Kjetil Rekdal unhappy about this week?”, so instead we’ll have a one-off replacement quiz: “What did Kjetil Rekdal do on his holidays?”
A – Went drinking with Eirik Bakke
B – Got married and played in a poker-tournament in London
C – Played Maria in a local production of The Sound of Music
D – Tor Hogne Aarøy
Answers on a postcard to the usual address.