IFK’s 3-0 win over Kalmar in the opening match of the season, and Elfsborg’s 6-0 thrashing of Halmstad in week two, seemed to confirm the bookies’ predictions.
Meanwhile in the opening round Malmö were held to a 0-0 draw away to Gais, and Helsingborg only just beat Brommapojkarna (BP) at home thanks to a goal in extra time, with neither game giving any indication of the season that lay ahead.
Yet it didn’t take long for Malmö and Helsingborg to assert their dominance, which they’d go on to maintain all season. After six rounds, Helsingborg and Malmö were first and second respectively, leading up to a much-anticipated Skåne derby in late April.
Helsingborg completely outplayed Malmö, winning 1-0, and became the outright favourites from that point onwards. Meanwhile AIK and IFK, who were first and second respectively in 2009, sat in the relegation zone seemingly incapable winning.
Week seven was a turning point for many clubs: AIK recorded their first win, Malmö suffered their first defeat, and Åtvidaberg scored their first goal! Midfielder Haris Radetinac had the honour of ending the 575 minute-long goalless streak but unfortunately two own-goals meant their opponents Djurgården ended up winning 2-1.
While Åtvidaberg struggled all year, fellow promotion winners Mjällby were the season’s overachievers and spent most of the year in the top six, playing an attractive attacking brand of football seldom seen by newly promoted clubs.
At the end of May, the Allsvenskan took a long summer break to make way for the World Cup. At that point Helsingborg had only lost one game all season, due to a freak goal against Kalmar, and had a five-point lead over second placed Malmö. They looked unbeatable and passed Malmö it was hard to find a potential challenger.
AIK, IFK and Kalmar were in the bottom half of the table, while Elfsborg were way too inconsistent. Örebro and Mjällby were overachieving as it was, and it was questionable whether they could even keep their top four places, let alone win the league. Even if Helsingborg didn’t end up on top at season’s end, it seemed clear in May that the title would end up going to a team from Skåne.
When the season resumed in July, Malmö came out firing. They won six games in a row including 3-0 over third placed Örebro and a 1-0 win over Elfsborg. Helsingborg dropped points against Häcken and the gap between the two narrowed. By the time the two sides had to play each other again in the second Skåne derby, it was effectively a championship play-off. This time Malmö were the superior team, winning 2-0, and it became clear the power balance had shifted.
What followed was a gripping title race with many twists. In early October, Helsingborg lost their first home game of the season to Gais, while Malmö increased their goal difference with a 3-0 thumping of Trelleborg. However a fortnight later Helsingborg became the first team all season to beat Elfsborg in Borås, winning 1-3, while Malmö lost at home for the first time all season, going down to Kalmar 0-1.
Both sides kept matching one another for wins and went into the last game of the season on equal points, however the momentum was with Malmö who had a huge advantage in goal difference. They went into the final match at home to Mjällby, with their confidence high having scored eight goals in the previous two matches, and knowing a win would almost certainly guarantee the title.
Malmö’s final performance was clinical as they brushed Mjällby aside to clinch the club’s 16th title, and celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary in style. Meanwhile Helsingborg were held to a scoreless draw against Kalmar, and will always look back on 2010 as the one that got away.
Here’s a quick review of each team’s 2010 season, listed in order of their final ranking in the Allsvenskan table.
Summary: Easily one of the best sides all year but spent most of season second best to Helsingborg. After the summer break they went on an eight-game unbeaten run, which soon saw them overtake Helsingborg. Once on top, they refused to move and were able to celebrate their 100th anniversary with yet another league title.
Highlight: Obviously clinching the title at home in the last game of the season.
Lowlight: Losing to Kalmar in October, the club’s only lose at home all season, and at the time could have potentially cost them the title.
Verdict: Worthy winners, and unlike past champions they did it in style, playing attractive attacking football. It is great to finally see the SM-Guld go to an exciting young team. 5 out of 5.
Summary: Undefeated for the first twelve games of the season, Helsingborg were very much the early pace setters. Their backline looked impenetrable and as we entered the summer break there was every chance they were going to run away with it. Instead they buckled under the pressure being applied by Malmö. They lost games to Häcken and Gais, which proved vital in a tight premiership race.
Highlight: Completely outplaying Malmö 2-1 in the first Skåne derby of the season back in April would have been the point at which most fans dared dream of winning the league.
Lowlight: Losing to Gais at home, their first and only lose of the season at home, was arguably the point where they lost the league.
Verdict: The first half of the season was flawless but some poor performances in the second half means this will always be the one that got away. Ordinarily 65 points in a season would win the league, but not this year. 4.5 out of 5.
Summary: After losing a few games early in the season, Örebro steadied and just got better as the season went on. Even losing key target man Kim Olsen in the summer failed to slow them down, and they had secured European qualification with a handful of games to spare.
Highlight: Beating Helsingborg 3-0 in late August proved to themselves and everyone else that they deserved to be title contenders.
Lowlight: Early in the season Örebro lost to Mjällby and Gais, and there was very little to suggest they’d be challenging for the title later in the season.
Verdict: Örebro were an effective solid unit that keep getting stronger. Finishing third is a fantastic result for the club, who are reminiscent of Kalmar as they built up a title-winning squad prior to 2008. Could be one to watch in 2011. 4.5 out of 5.
Summary: Elfsborg started in spectacular fashion with a 6-0 win over Halmstad, but it would prove to be their only win for the first five games of the season. For all their talent Elfsborg often failed to take their chances, recording an incredible 11 draws.
Highlight: Beating Halmstad 6-0 was the biggest win of the year and made the club worthy title favourites.
Lowlight: Losing 5-1 to IFK Göteborg would have hurt, but losing 3-0 to Örebro killed off their slim chances of winning the league and suggested they were never going to get higher than fourth.
Verdict: Yet another season of underachievement and missed opportunities. 3 out of 5.
Summary: Trelleborg started slowly, winning only one match in their first ten, and the season looked set for another grim relegation battle. However they managed to slowly turn things around, losing only four games of their final 17, and gradually moving back up the table all the way to fifth.
Highlight: Winning four games in a row midseason was a record for the club, and begun a revival that pushed them into the top half of the table.
Lowlight: Losing 3-0 to fellow strugglers Åtvidaberg suggested they’d struggle for a win all season.
Verdict:: Trelleborg were very much the quiet achievers, and they got better as the season wore on, winning their final four games. One can only wonder how much further they would have gone if it weren’t for their poor start. 4 out of 5.
Summary: Mjällby took everyone by surprise in the first half of the season, and went into the summer break in fourth spot. However when the season resumed, they went into a slump that saw them win only one match in the next ten. A 3-0 win over Djurgården helped turn things round and they finished the season strongly.
Highlight: Beating Malmö 4-2, a week after beating Elfsborg. This was the point where their success could no longer be dismissed as a fluke.
Lowlight: Losing to Helsingborg in September stretched a winless streak to five games, and it looked like their season was disintegrating.
Verdict: Tremendous season for the small club playing in the Allsvenskan for the first time in 25 years. They weren’t afraid to play attacking football, and made some inspired signings, such as Dutch striker Mostapha El Kabir. 5 out of 5.
Summary: The season started in spectacular fashion with a 3-0 win over Kalmar, suggesting they were right to be favourites. When Blåvit played well they were excellent. They scored some big wins and won by three goals or more on seven occasions. But when they were poor they were awful, winning only three games before the summer break.
Highlight: Take your pick: beating west coats rivals Elfsborg 5-1, or getting revenge on AIK winning 4-0.
Lowlight: Losing to 2-1 to Åtvidaberg, who hasn’t won a game all season, came at a time when it looked like they had just gotten their season back on track.
Verdict: On paper, IFK are arguably the strongest side in Sweden, and some performances proved it. But overall they were huge underachievers. 2.5 out of 5.
Summary: With three straight wins to open the season, 2010 was looking bright. But it was followed by an eight game winless streak and Häcken spent most of the season in midtable.
Highlight: Beating IFK Göteborg, the big-time Charlies from south of the river, for the second year in the row would have been satisfying.
Lowlight: Getting torn apart 5-1 by the same opponents later in the year.
Verdict: Not quite as spectacular as last season, but Häcken were still a decent side despite a shoestring budget, and overall played better than the sum of their parts. 3 out of 5.
Summary: Along with AIK and IFK, Kalmar had a poor start and didn’t win a match until Gameweek 9. But from there they went on a seven-game undefeated streak to lift themselves back into title contention. When they couldn’t maintain it, they were doomed to midtable.
Highlight: Beating Helsingborg, even if it was from a freak goal, restored some confidence put their premiership campaign back on track.
Lowlight: Losing 0-3 to AIK, who at that point hadn’t won a game all season.
Verdict: While they’re not as strong as their title winning 2008 side, there is still some talent on Kalmar’s books, they should have done a lot better. 3 out of 5.
Summary: Djurgården fans will claim the mantle of “bäst i stad”, but it hides the fact that this was very much a season of mid-table mediocrity. They spent most of the season hovering above the relegation zone before finding some form in mid-August, where four wins in a row pushed them into the top half.
Highlight: Beating AIK twice in one season was always going to please long-suffering fans, especially the second victory which put their much hated rivals back into the relegation zone.
Lowlight: Losing 3-0 to Häcken at home would have made fans fear another relegation battle.
Verdict: Considering they were nearly relegated last season, 2010 was a big improvement, but otherwise there wasn’t much to get excited about. 3 out of 5.
Summary: Despite being the defending champions, AIK were woeful in 2010. They only won two games for the first half of the season, and spent most of the year in the relegation zone. Luckily the fixture list was kind, and an easy run home let them win their last three games to pull themselves to safety.
Highlight: Beating IFK Göteborg in the Super Cup (Sweden’s version of the Community Shield) meant they at least got a trophy, and at the time it gave no indication of the travesty to follow.
Lowlight: So many to choice from…where do you start?
Verdict: Absolutely atrocious. 0.5 out of 5.
Summary: Halmstad were capable of the odd performance, such as 4-0 win over Åtvidaberg and 3-0 win over Gais, but for the most part they struggled.
Highlight: Beating Åtvidaberg 4-0 helped restore some confidence and negate the battering to the goal difference inflicted the previous week (see Lowlight).
Lowlight: Losing 6-0 against Elfsborg was the biggest defeat inflicted on anybody and set the tone for much of the season.
Verdict: Expectations were never high and there were few positives that could be taken from this season. 2 out of 5.
Summary: While Gais were never spectacular they at least managed to pick up some points early on. Losing Wanderson during the summer robbed them of a lot of their attacking flair and they struggled to score goals all season. In the end they survived not so much because of any effort from themselves but because those below them failed to catch up.
Highlight: Beating Helsingborg away was an unexpected three points and made their relegation battle significantly easier.
Lowlight: Conceding three goals in the final 12 minutes at home to Trelleborg, after absolutely dominating for most of the match.
Verdict: Typically Gais. Often playing well but rarely scoring and frequently conceding goals late in games. If matches were 80 minutes long, Gais would be much higher up the table. 2 out of 5.
Summary: Gelfe won three of their first five matches to earn a respectable midtable position, but this was followed by four consecutive defeats and they struggled from that point onwards.
Highlight: Beating AIK early in the season made it three wins in the first five matches, and suggested Gelfe could have been this season’s overachievers.
Lowlight: Losing Alexander Gerndt to Helsingborg midseason. He would go on to score another 12 goals, become the Allsvenskan’s leading goal scorer, and could have made the difference between relegation and survival if he stayed.
Verdict: Struggled all season and never looked likely to escape relegation. 1.5 out of 5.
Summary: Åtvidaberg started slowly and looked doomed to be relegated very early on. They didn’t even score a goal until Gameweek 7. They never went higher than 12th, and yet still had every chance of surviving right up until the second last game.
Highlight: Beating IFK Göteborg 2-1 for their first win of the season. It gave fans hope that they might survive despite such a poor start.
Lowlight: Conceding two own goals against Djurgården to blow a 1-0 lead. You know nothing will go right with results like that.
Verdict: Struggled all season but this was always expected. 1 out of 5.
Summary: BP started well and at one stage threatened to be this season’s overachievers. However after beating Mjällby 1-0 in late July, they wouldn’t win another game for the rest of the season, and rapidly dropped to rock bottom.
Highlight: Beating Halmstad 1-0, which took the club to fifth, their highest position all season.
Lowlight: Losing 4-1 to Åtvidaberg, who had barely won a game up until that point, was the first suggestion that BP didn’t have what it takes to stay up.
Verdict: Very ordinary and deserve to be relegated. 1 out of 5.