The sixteenth round mirrored the previous round as we saw eight rematches with the only difference being a flip in home-field advantage. Another similarity was that top teams kept on winning and bottom teams kept on losing. The effect of this is that the trend we noted at the end of the previous round remains perfectly intact: Allsvenskan is becoming clearly separated into three distinct segments consisting of five top, six middle and five bottom teams.
The big winner this week was IF Elfsborg as they took over the top spot from IFK Göteborg, who lost their game away against Trelleborgs FF after having dropped a 1-0 lead during the second half.
IF Elfsborg headed into their game against basement dwellers Djurgården as huge favorites to win. The 3-1 final result in this game suggests that the game turned out to be just the type of cakewalk one would have expected. But in fact, the game was far more interesting than the final score might suggest. As expected, Elfsborg put extreme pressure on Djurgården during the first half and the Borås team lined up countless golden opportunties but failed to show the necessary concentration in front of goal. Somehow it was Djurgården that ended up taking an astonishingly unexpected and undeserved lead via a penalty kick from Daniel Sjölund in the 40th minute.
Djurgården would probably have offered an apology for scoring if asked for one in half time. But somehow the team entered the second half with some spirit and managed to maintain a certain amount of their own passing game and actually came awfully close to scoring a second goal. As the clock ticked away and approached the final ten minutes, one was starting to feel increasingly assured that Djurgården might just pull off the biggest upset of the year. But just as Djurgården had lulled their supporters into a false sense of hope, disaster struck twice and in quick succession as substitute Denni Avdic pulled the equalizer and followed that up by tallying an assist on the turnaround goal scored by youngster Daniel Nordmark.
Hope was crushed for Djurgården’s supporters, but they still had every reason to feel good about the way their team had stood up in one of the most difficult match-ups of the year. That is until defender Peter Gustafsson closed the game with a truly humiliating own-goal to make it 3-1. Djurgården thus succeeded in finding a brand new way to torture their supporters, since simply conceding six goals was apparently beginning to feel passé.
The remaining top five teams, Helsingborg, Kalmar and AIK all won their respective games against what can all be considered bottom-of-the-table teams. Helsingborg beat Gefle who are actually in a presentable 10th place at the moment, but with Gefle’s recent sale of their top player Amadou Jawo to Elfsborg one might expect a continued slide down the table for the most northern team in Allsvenskan.
In the middle of the table, the most noteable event occurred in the game between Häcken and Örebro where the only American still left in Allsvenskan, Carlos Bedoya, scored two goals for Örebro as the team bounced back from a two goal deficit. Bedoya has had some good looks earlier this season, but has really only been given the chance as a dying minute substitute. Whether this means Bedoya will get the chance to play from the start or perhaps turn into a bona-fide a supersub remains to be seen.
The bottom of the table remained largely unchanged as the teams surrounding the relegation zone all failed to record victories.
The past two rounds have as such followed existing trends almost to a tee. But we can expect the forthcoming round to be a lot more interesting as several match-ups are extremely hard to predict. Kalmar will have a chance to prove themselves as a real top contender against Elfsborg at home in a game which I think Kalmar has every chance at winning as long as Rasmus Elm remains on the team. AIK could lose a bit of ground in the top as they will face a real challenge against Malmö away from home. This a match-up that AIK hasn’t won since 1996 and add to that the fact that Malmö suddenly looks a bit more hopeful following their strong 3-0 win away against Halmstad in this round.
All results from the sixteenth round are listed below. Click the yellow links to see the highlights from each game. League standings, statistics and upcoming fixtures can be found by following the links on the right side bar of the blog. Enjoy!
IF Brommapojkarna vs. Kalmar FF 1-2
Trelleborgs FF vs. IFK Göteborg 2-1
Helsingborgs IF vs. Gefle IF 2-0
IF Elfsborg vs. Djurgårdens IF 3-1
Halmstads BK vs. Malmö FF 0-3
Örgryte IS vs. Hammarby IF 0-0
BK Häcken vs. Örebro SK 2-2
AIK vs. GAIS 1-0