Jonkopings vs Goteborg by Sweem
One of the newcomers Jonkoping Sodra have performed slightly above expectations as they are representing a very stingy style of football which have earned many vital points throughout the season so far, by currently sitting four points above safe ground. IFK Goteborg are as expected placed in the top three, but with four points behind the leaders Malmo - which makes this match somewhat of a key for both teams
The top side, Goteborg have been matched heavily recently due to their Europa League qualification adventure, most recently a 1-2 loss at home against HJK from Finland only three days ago, and prior to that there were back and forth trips to Poland for their encounters with Piast Gliwice. The coach Jorgen Lennartsson has not been overly kind to his players and not really rotated a lot within the lineup, which means that nearly the entire eleven have gone through a work-load beyond normal. The loss against HJK came as a surprise, especially since Goteborg do treat Europa League with priority due to their finance struggle - the return match in Finland will be of exteme importance and perhaps have some of the players already their minds set on that match?
The title contenders will need to put the disappointment behind them quickly in order to focus on Allsvenskan again where they possess a strong position, but have not been fully impressive as visitors with only three victories in seven visits. Jonkoping is a strong home team due to their compact stadium which often generates an extra push for their hard working team, and they have only lost one home game this season which was against Norrkoping.
In fact, Goteborgs trademark in recent season has been their composure at the back of the defense, and their defense has built up a reputation of being very solid. This season they will be surprised to notice that they actually average 1.40 conceded goals per match, which is a tough ratio to keep up with unless you constantly score two or three as an offensive average. The summary to this is that Goteborg should in fact feel fortunate being where they are as they have not completely reached their title-contender status yet, as in transforming that mentality onto the pitch.
The tight schedule have also taken its toll on some players, such as central defender captain Mattias Bjarsmyr (9/0) and key striker Tobias Hysιn (13/5), both being questionable. What we know for sure is that striker Mikael Boman (13/4) will miss the game due to injury. As a result, 20 year old striker Gustav Engvall might be given the start even though he has mostly acted substitute so far but still scored three goals.
Jonkoping Sodra might not be the fanciest of teams in Allsvenskan but they belong to that category of teams where each point is battled for, no matter what the name of the opposition is. Early on the season, Jonkping took down Malmo at home with 3-2 and have the third best defense at home where they are tough to take down due to their organized play. Jonkping have gotten at least one point at home in nearly 86% of their matches this season which is a strong record for a newcomer especially. Offensively, this team is dependant on 20-year old striker Pawel Cibicki who came from Malmo FF - he has scored 8 goals and 3 assists in 14 games for team that were expected to belong in the bottom, and is the number one reason for the success up until now.
The hosts have a more pleasant situation in terms of absentees, as their only let down is the fact that defender Andrι Calisir (15/0) is suspended.
There is a fine line between being a title contender and a new comer - if we look at the labels it is easy to blindly target Goteborg and say that this is a simple game. In fact it is tougher than that to play away in this little stadium - The two teams actually met recently where Goteborg won 2-1 at home, and Jonkoping will have their chance for revenge here against a slightly worn out Goteborg side who have not played these many matches in a very long time. The underdog stamp is a bit too valuable here for me, which is why I find enough reasons to back at least a point for the hosts here who can cause harm, even against the bigger sides.