• Sweden edition
 
A preview of the 2011 Allsvenskan football season
Players gather at an Allsvenskan preview event

A preview of the 2011 Allsvenskan football season

Published: 01 Apr 2011 11:38 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Apr 2011 11:38 GMT+02:00

Last year's Allsvenskan season ended with Malmö FF claiming its 16th title after a late season surge that led to a thrilling title race with Helsingborg.

Sweden’s premier football division kicks off competition once again on Saturday in what promises to be yet another exciting and unpredictable season.

The Contenders

In the past twelve seasons, nine different teams have won the Allsvenskan SM Guld, in what is one of the most open and unpredictable leagues in Europe. This year is no different with up to five teams well and truly capable of challenging for the title.

The obvious favourites will be reigning champions Malmö FF, which looked unbeatable towards the end of last season as they clinched the title. Talented youngsters such as Ivo Pekalski, Guillermo Molins, Jimmy Durmaz, Jiloan Hamad, Daniel Larsson and Agon Mehmeti, combined well with veterans Daniel Andersson and Wilton Figueiredo, and having kept the squad together, Malmö will continue to be a formidable side.

However, in the past 14 seasons, only one team (Djurgården in 2003) has managed to defend its title. Malmö’s emerging young stars will attract a lot of attention during the summer transfer window, while manager Roland Nilsson is also been linked to the soon-to-be-vacant job at FC Copenhagen. Like so many teams before them, it could all come crashing down very quickly.

Elfsborg has consistently finished in the top four over the past five years, and having significantly bolstered its squad with the signings of David Elm and Lasse Nilsson, the team will most likely be amongst the top four again. However, Elfsborg is fast becoming the Arsenal of Swedish football: great squad on paper, great to watch, but with a tendency to dominate games without scoring goals. Last season it recorded an incredible 11 draws, and that could cost the squad another title.

Helsingborg, which led the Allsvenskan most of last season, remains one of the stronger sides in the competition, despite losing Marcus Lantz and Joel Ekstrand, and is capable of mounting another title challenge. IFK Göteborg was a favourite this time last year, boasting one of the best squads in the league, but was plagued by incredible inconsistency all season. At its peak Göteborg could beat anyone, including a 5-1 hammering of Elfsborg. But at its lowest, the team couldn’t even muster a draw against bottom-placed Åtvidaberg.

And finally, the outside chance will be Örebro SK, which over the past few seasons has progressively built up an impressive squad. While never spectacular, they are consistent, effective and get results – making it the sort of team that generally ends up winning the league.

The stragglers

Most pundits have already earmarked Gais and Gelfe for relegation, and deservedly so, considering how badly both played last season. Gais can at least be optimistic about the possible return of Wanderson do Carmo, but if the move doesn’t eventuate then it will have to hope and pray that Alvaro Santos recovers some of his prolific goal scoring form from his days at Helsingborg.

For Gelfe this is going to be a long year. The team barely survived last season, and has made no additions to the squad over the winter to suggest it will do any better.

Like any newly promoted side, IFK Norrköping and Syrianska will be looking for survival. IFK Norrköping may have a long history in the top flight but the current squad is still very much the makings of a side more fit for Sweden's second tier league, the Superettan. Syrianska by contrast, is playing in the Allsvenskan for the very first time and as recently as 2005, was playing in Division Two (fourth tier). With the likes of Peter Ijeh, Sharbel Touma and Johan Arneng, the squad has some seasoned top-flight performers, and even if they are on the wrong side of 30, Syrianska is certainly good enough to stay in the top Swedish league.

The dark horses

Between the title contenders and the relegation battlers, there are a host of clubs who could end up doing just about anything. The best example is Halmstad. New Spanish manager Josep Clotet Ruiz, who was instrumental as Malmö’s offensive game plan last season as their assistant coach, has added a very Spanish ambience to the club this year. He has, among other things, signed three youth players on loan from Real Madrid – a club which rarely finds itself needing to deal with small provincial Swedish sides.

Halmstad could take the league by storm through Barcelonaesque "tika-taka" football…or the club could get relegated with their Spanish imports struggling to adapt to Swedish food and playing on cold nights in Borås.

Trelleborg were last year’s quiet achievers, recovering from a poor start that saw them win only one game in their first ten, to gradually move up the table into fifth place through a series of unspectacular 1-0 wins. Manager Tom Prahl has a great track record of making the most of meagre resources, having previously won two titles with Halmstad and qualifying for Europe with Trelleborg in the early 1990s. If they can carry over their form from the second half of last season, there is every chance he’ll take Trelleborg to Europe again.

Kalmar are not anywhere near as strong as the squad who won the title in 2008, but they still have a few talented Brazilians left on their books. This year they’ll have the added impetus of playing in their brand new stadium. This also means they’ll no longer have to play European fixtures on the other side of the country…only problem is that this year they no longer have any European fixtures.

AIK had a horrible season in 2010 and was more concerned about avoiding relegation, let alone defending its title. But there were signs of recovery by season’s end. Mohamed Bangura has already proved to be an astute signing, who many tip to be one of the league's best players. Djurgården hovered above the relegation zone for most of last season, before finding some form in August that pushed it into safety. Another season of mid-table mediocrity seems likely.

Häcken continues to build a squad around journeymen and discards from other clubs, this year recruiting Dioh Williams. But so far the formula has worked, keeping them in the top division. Mjällby defied all expectations last season, playing a brand of attacking football rarely seen in newly promoted sides. They’ve managed to keep most of the squad together, including Dutch forward Moestafa El Kabir, so there is every reason for them finish in the top half again.

Final note

Making preseason predictions for the Allsvenskan isn’t easy, and I’m sure it won’t be long into the new season before one of the sixteen clubs makes a mockery of my punditry skills. But the egalitarian nature of Swedish football makes it incredibly difficult to predict.

I’m still convinced that most clubs recruit players on chance and pot-luck rather than extensive scouting and careful assessment, meaning a club could uncover the next Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Afonso Alves…or just as easily get stuck with a Ali Dia.

This time last year Alexander Gerndt was struggling to hold onto a first team spot at Gelfe. By season’s end he was the competition’s leading scorer and the hottest property in Swedish domestic football. The summer transfer window also complicates things, as strong performing sides tend to have their squads pillaged by richer clubs on the continent, usually from Holland.

So the short answer is that just about anything could happen this season, and probably will. Inevitable my predictions will be proven to be horribly wrong, but I’m going to enjoy finding out.

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

15:10 April 1, 2011 by Rolle
Go Mjällby!!!
Today's headlines
Politics
Nuclear freeze agreed by new government
A nuclear power station in Forsmark, Sweden. Photo: TT

Nuclear freeze agreed by new government

Sweden's Social Democrats and Greens Party have announced a coalition agreement to halt nuclear energy development. READ  

International
Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' asylum
A Swedish soldier in Afghanistan. Photo: TT

Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' asylum

The Migration Court in Malmö has ruled that Sweden's Migration Board was wrong to reject the residence applications of seven Afghan interpreters without assessing their protection needs. READ  

The Local List
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
Speak Percussion will perform at Connect in Malmö in November. Photo: Connect

Top five winter festivals in Sweden

Autumn has swept into the country and chilly days lie ahead. But there are plenty of winter festivals where you can warm up in the coming months. With tickets already selling fast, here are The Local's top tips. READ  

Business
Swedish Saab plant sheds a third of workers
Workers at the Saab plant in Trollhättan. Photo: TT

Swedish Saab plant sheds a third of workers

Swedish car maker Saab has announced it has axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce. READ  

International
Sweden's 'most dangerous art' on sale
A Danish site is selling the works that the Swedish state wants destroyed. Screenshot: www.entartetekunst.dk

Sweden's 'most dangerous art' on sale

Work by controversial jailed Swedish artist Dan Park is on sale online and could reach a gallery in Copenhagen, despite a previous exhibition being pulled. READ  

Society
Sweden is 'second best' place to grow old
Pensioners in Sweden. Photo: TT

Sweden is 'second best' place to grow old

Sweden has dropped to second place in an annual index measuring the quality of life of elderly people in 96 countries around the world. READ  

National
Top Swedish skier killed in Chile avalanche
Andreas Fransson, left. Photo: Markus Alatalo

Top Swedish skier killed in Chile avalanche

UPDATED: The bodies of two of the world's top skiers, Sweden's Andreas Fransson and JP Auclair from Canada, were found on Tuesday after they were reported missing in an avalanche in the Andes. READ  

Politics
Coalition promise to boost welfare and jobs
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

Coalition promise to boost welfare and jobs

UPDATED: The Social Democrats and the Greens have agreed to raise unemployment payments and promised to create more jobs in the construction industry, The Local has learned. READ  

National
Ikea recalls elk pasta
Two types of pasta are affected. Photo: IKEA

Ikea recalls elk pasta

Ikea has pulled two different types of elk-shaped pasta from its stores in Sweden. READ  

Presented by Regus
How to get your own great office in Stockholm
A woman using a Regus workspace. Photo: Regus

How to get your own great office in Stockholm

Stockholm's business climate is hotter than ever, which leaves start-ups and business travellers hunting high and low for flexible office space. The solution is easier than they think. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Apology for Swedish model's stolen photos
Politics
New coalition agrees on defence and migration
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Botkyrka
Education
New government to make school compulsory to 18
Politics
Sweden Democrat wins Deputy Speaker spot
Blog updates

28 September

Spoiled Doyle (Blogweiser) »

"What you gotta watch out for in Sweden is the good stuff. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re_EzUe6xpI In Sweden, it’s the good things you have to watch out for. Video on @TheLocalSweden http://t.co/rAb8eGFdTD pic.twitter.com/w37YYwMXy1 — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) September 29, 2014 " READ »

 

26 September

 (The Local Sweden) »

"Hi readers, Autumn swept into Sweden at the start of this week with snow in the north of the country and flooding in the south. As well as a change in the weather, Sweden’s change in political direction became clearer, with Social Democrat leader Stefan Lofven formally announcing his party would work with the Greens as..." READ »

 
 
 
National
Swedish scientists sneak Bob Dylan lyrics into articles
Lifestyle
The five best Swedish songs of the month
Gallery
People-watching: September 28th
National
When Italian style meets Swedish simplicity
Lifestyle
Review: Sweden's first alcohol-free nightclub
Gallery
In Pictures: The MS Estonia disaster
Lifestyle
Ten things expat women notice in Sweden
Politics
What's next on Sweden's political stage?
Gallery
Sweden's 2014 election: Most memorable moments
Society
What's on in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 24th
Seaman Oliver Gee with his first lobster
Lifestyle
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Gallery
In Pictures: Fredrik Reinfeldt through the years.
Society
Plucked out of Canada for love and guitars
Politics
How Sweden Democrats went mainstream
Politics
Scandinavia and Scotland: closer links?
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Society
Why is Stockholm's Södermalm so cool?
Politics
Sweden elections: Who's who?
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

866
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN