Odd vs Sarpsborg by 20Legend
Odd has not only shocked the whole world of football with their brilliant performances against Borussia Dortmund this season, they are also challenging both the 3rd and 2nd place in Tippeligaen after a good season. With a current 5th place and 44 points, it is very possible to take step into the top 3 once and for all with three points this afternoon. After Stromsgodset won against Bodo/Glimt (3-1) yesterday, Odd must win in order to get to overtake the 3rd place. With Viking, who has the same amount of points (44 pts), facing league leader Rosenborg and 2nd placed Stabaek (47 pts) facing Molde, a win could mean a lot more than just the boost of confidence. They have been in brilliant form all season with 12-8-4 to show for, but especially their form since the middle of July has been very strong with 7-1-0 as the fact, in addition to play in the qualification for Europa League. The club is moving in a very good direction and you could see it on the way the players are working together to achieve it. The return of striker Olivier Occean (21/12) has been a magnificent addition to the club and just what the club needed. Their last performance was another good one against Aalesund (1-3)
Two key-players will miss the match tonight as midfielder Fredrik Olderup Jensen (19/2) and Jone Samuelsen (22/2) are both suspended. Ardian Gashi (13/0) is returning and he will probably take one of the midfield positions. The other one can go to the youngster Oliver Berg (16/0) who has been very good in training in the past week. Striker Frode Johnsen (9/2) is still missing with injury.
Sarpsborg 08 has placed themselves in 12th place with 27 points so far. With six games to go and a gap of seven points down to the relegation zone, it looks like they are going to stay another season at the highest level in Norwegian football. Still, they should have at least three more points before that conclusion can be fulfilled. 2-2-1 is the facts when looking at their latest five games, which is nothing but what is needed after 0-3-5 in the period before that. Their last match in Tippeligaen against Haugesund (1-1) away from home was a point only because of the substitution of Barry Maguire (2/1), as he scored the 1-1 goal in the 87th minute after a bad clearance from the defense at Haugesund. However, winning the semifinal in the cup against Viking (0-1 after extra time) on Thursday is what the whole club has been thinking on ever since the referee blew his final whistle. They came in as huge underdogs against an opponent that is fighting for the 2nd place in Tippeligaen this season. They were tactical from the start as they were compact with solid defensive play through the 90 minutes. As Viking got more and more frustrated about not being able to go through in the regular time, Sarpsborg 08 was able to take advantage of it with a good counter-attack, before going back to their tactic again. As Viking had to move forward, it was a nerve wrecking moment for both the players and their fans, but they managed to stay put and got their reward with a cup final at Ullevaal Stadion against Rosenborg. Nothing is bigger in Norwegian football as the Norway has the greatest cup-traditions in Scandinavia.
Defender Joachim Thomassen (5/0) is still injured, while defender Andreas Nordvik (22/3) and midfielder Anders Trondsen (21/1) are both suspended.
At this stage of the season, every game is important for almost any team in the league, as they are either fighting for a top 3 position, or fighting to avoid relegation. It is clear what three points will mean for Odd, while Sarpsborg 08 still needs at least another three points to be a lot safer on staying in Tippeligaen also next season. However, Odd has be showing a lot better form for a longer period of time than Sarpsborg has done. The guest of today has also played 120 minutes in the cup during midweek, which should affect the players. In addition to their physical challenge that game was, the fact that they won as an underdog also brought them on a mentally high. This game should therefore come too soon as I do not think that Sarpsborg is able to refocus against an opponent like Odd. Odd should continue their brilliant form and take the win tonight.