Brann vs Valerenga by 20Legend
One of the classics in Norwegian football is taking place in Bergen as surprisingly strong Brann welcomes a struggling Valerenga side tonight. This would have been a top match some seasons back, but that is absolutely not the case this season.
Brann is newly promoted after their impressive work in OBOS-Ligaen last season. However, they have shown that they belong in Norway’s best league with a solid 7th place so far. 7-2-5 and 23 points put them only three points away from 3rd place Stromsgodset. That start is surely more than expected even for the most loyal fan in Bergen, but it is certainly deserved. Their coach Lars Arne Nilsen took charge during last season and quickly changed the philosophy in the club both on and off the field. His strict rules quickly gave results on the field as Brann went from being an unreliable mid-table team and into a winning machine.
Brann has managed to taken that same mentality back to Tippeligaen this season, but coach Nilsen has also chosen a different approach to their game at this level. He has chosen to make their defensive qualities as their number one priority. That has really been their key to success so far, but it has also resulted in a much weaker offensive approach. 11:11 on goal difference from 14 games witness about a tough team to break down, but also a team that aims for narrow wins in order to climb the table. However, it is exactly this kind of cynical approach that more promoted teams must use to survive the first season at a higher level.
Brann come from a difficult match away from home against Sarpsborg 08 (1-0) last weekend. It was the first match after a long vacation, but Brann also had some important absentees in their defense that made their hopes of points more difficult. However, their approach was the same, which gave a close game without many chances. Sarpsborg 08 controlled the game and created most chances and managed to get through once. It was nothing to say on Brann’s loss as they struggled to create enough themselves. Defender Bismar Acosta (10/1) and winger Daniel Braaten (13/0) are reported to possibly return tonight, but a decision will be taken closer to kickoff whether they will start or not. Defender Vadim Demidov (12/0) is still doubtful as his wife expects a child any time soon. Their midfielder Fredrik Haugen (13/2) is suspended due to three yellow cards.
Valerenga has really begun horrible this season with a 14th place on the table. 3-2-9 says a lot about the team that has only collected 11 points in 14 games. The club is currently on the qualification spot with only one point down to being relegated at the moment. They finished with a low note before the vacation with 0-2-2. A month of vacation looked to do them well as they managed 2-0-1 from their friendlies, but they had one of their biggest challenges waiting back from vacation last weekend. Odd paid them a visit and gave them a huge fight. Valerenga had more than enough with just defending themselves and only slipped once that gave Odd the three points.
Valerenga did also produce a huge chance, but it was saved on the line by Odd’s striker Oliver Occean. It was therefore an irritating loss for them, but it was not expected for them to take a point from this game either. Defender Kjetil Waehler (11/1) whiles their midfielder and captain Christian Grindheim (12/0) is back in the squad. However, their top scorer Deshorn Brown (14/6) was sold to Shenzhen in China yesterday. That gives the club offensive problems as Brown has scored six of the club’s 14 goals this season.
Brann has impressed a lot this season, but it is their brilliant form at home (5-1-0) that has brought them upwards. Their tight defensive approach has also resulted in no conceded goals at home which are impressive. Valerenga has been the worst away team this season with 0-2-5 and 5:14 on goal difference. The selling of their top scorer is not going to help the situation at the moment. Brann is clear favorites, but they struggle to score enough goals even if they control their games. 6:0 on goal difference at home in six games gives that picture. I therefore consider under 2.5 goals to be a wiser pick compared to Brann winning the game. With that being said, it is clearly the pick if you want the higher odds.