Falkenberg vs Malmo by Sweem
The champions from Malmo are coming from two intense matches versus quality opponents in Goteborg and most recently Hammarby, where both ended in victories for a strong confidence boost. Still, it seems like Malmo have a lot more to give based on the performances which have been pretty two faced so far. The curve is pointing up though which is positive for the defending champions. Falkenberg began horrible but got two great results after that, but fell apart again versus Atvidaberg in a 3-1 trashing. In other words, two very contradicting teams will come together in Falkenberg for a match which "traditionally" is a goalfest.
Staying with the hosts for a moment, Falkenberg were in the middle of a good period after their 0- 0 draw on the road versus Helsingborg and followed it up with a 2-0 home win against Cup finalists Orebro. Their journey came to a brutal end when Atvidaberg proved to be too difficult for Falkenberg who suffered a 3-1 loss most recently. Noticeably and unfortunately for the hosts, their biggest offensive threat in striker Godsway Donyoh got injured two matches ago and the performances suffers from his absence. Not only is he the quickest player in their team, but also the one who creates most on his own. Falkenberg will now have to rely on collectively strong performances from everybody, and there is no real star player on the team to keep an eye on. The club itself is quite charming, using small resources and is actually one of the few teams who still plays on natural grass on their compact stadium. Though, truth remains that Falkenberg will be perhaps the strongest candidate for relegation this season after they somehow survived the previous year during the guidiance of Henrik Larsson. They came into this season losing their successful coach Henrik Larsson, and their best midfielder Anton Wede who both went to Helsingborg which immediately means experience and quality suddenly disappeared. A lot of trust goes to striker Stefan Rodevag who is a target player, quite dangerous in the air but often gets too lonely up front and easily dispossessed. In other words, it is difficult to be in Falkenbergs shoes at this point.
Despite being a collectively strong team with a big fighting spirit and good attitude which is admirable to watch, it is also necessary to highlight the weakness which is the inablity to maintain the possession and be creative. Falkenberg's trademark offensively would currently be to rely on greasy goals coming from set pieces or lucky bounce, because they can not really compete on the pitch with technique and passing plays. The hosts will be without main striker Godsway Donyoh (3/0) and remains the only significant absentee.
The visitors Malmo have started to play better but we have not seen the best from them yet. It is a slight worry ahead of this game because Malmo are coming from two intense matches against direct title contenders which is an instant motivational factor, but how will they find motivation playing on the road against a relegation team? The quality difference and squad value compared to Falkenberg is comparable to two different galaxies. At the moment Malmo have shown up and down performances, and overall plays at ~70% of their ability but they keep improving every game. It is hard to question Malmo right now who have beaten Goteborg away and Hammarby comfortably at home.
At the end of the day it needs to be mentioned that Malmo have replaced half their lineup from the previous year with quality players too, but once this team develops chemistry they will be hard to stop - and it is already looking promising. Coach Age Hareide have experimented with the formation and seems to give trust to 3-5-2 at the moment with two offensive wing backs who are actually more used as midfielders. In a game like this versus Falkenberg, Malmo knows they will dominate possession and this will be a good test to try their offensive power. The expectations on this Malmo team are above the clouds considering it really is the strongest team the country has seen in many years, probably also the best team in Scandinavia at the moment (squad wise). Squad value and player names does not necessarily means automatic victories, and the job still needs to get done. A slump here would be a disaster but not very likely at all if honesty should be spoken.
Some things that speaks for Malmo's favor is that striker Markus Rosenberg have started to find the goal, and the team is developing more and more chemistry each match which is also visible on their increasing performances. At the end of the day, they do play well and it is hard to overlook the quality difference. For the visitors, there are no injury concerns that prevents them from fielding a strong team. A slight worry for main keeper Robin Olsen who felt dizzy the last game but will most likely be in goal for this clash.
Overall this might be a one way street if Malmo wants to. Last year it finished 3-0 on Malmo's home ground, and 2-5 in Falkenberg which shows the difference in numbers. Falkenberg are weaker than last year while Malmo are equal or even stronger on paper. It will be around 60-65% possession for the visitors and I will give trust to their offense to solve the -1 AH line in 90 minutes, considering they will have much possession around the Falkenberg penalty area and create many chances. The price is good enough to take.