Viking vs Sarpsborg by 20Legend
It is the 2nd semifinal and the winner will meet Rosenborg in the final at Ullevaal Stadium. 3rd placed Viking is fighting for silverware in Tippeligaen and they are finally looking sharper than previous seasons. A lot of expectation comes when you represent this club, but Viking has struggled a lot when it comes to handling the pressure. Both the players and supporters are probably a bit more nervous given their recent performance against Stromsgodset (1-1) in Tippeligaen. After conceding a goal within the first quarter of the game, they did not manage to break through as a result of poor finishing.
However, they finally scored in the 80th minute which was a huge goal for them as the table clearly shows. That point secured them the advantage in the race for achieving the 3rd place. However, that result invited 4th placed Odd and 5th placed Stromsgodset, who won their game in hand yesterday, back into the race. Odd is matching the points of Viking (44 pts), but is behind on goal difference, while Stromsgodset is in the following only one points behind them (43 pts). Viking has truly impressed in a stable way in the cup this season as well. They have beaten Algaard (7-0), Varegg (9-0), Arendal (5-3), Kristiansund (3-2) and Molde (3-0) before the semifinal. All of the players have been stated as healthy and available for selection tonight.
Sarpsborg 08 is seven points above the relegation zone with six games left to play this season, which means that they are not safe yet. They have had a steady form through the recent weeks that have secured them some very valuable points in the battle for survival. 2-2-1 is the facts when we look at the latest five games, and it needs to continue if they want to be sure on staying in the league next season. Their last performance against Haugesund (1-1) was not as good as they were hoping for, but it was a vital point for them. They dictated the whole game in terms of the ball possession, but they also had more chances on goal. Despite that, they conceded a rather unlucky goal as it was a deflection off defender Kjetil Berge and the keeper was outplayed. Sarpsborg 08 struggled by getting the ball in the net through the whole game, but was closing in towards the end. The substitution of Martin Wiig with Barry Maguire in the 84th minute should be the key to goal. A set piece was cleared out to Maguire, who quickly delivered a half-volley which the keeper never had a chance of saving. Their performance in the cup has been good as well, especially in the latest two games. They have beaten Krakeroy (0-4), Grorud (0-3), Gjovik-Lyn (0-2), Brann (0-1) and Odd (1-2) before tonight’s game. To win away against Brann and Odd is very strong, given the two teams form of late. It shows that Sarpsborg 08 has the quality that is needed if everything goes according to plan. Defender Joachim Thomassen (5/0) is doubtful ahead of game.
Viking is off course the favorites tonight, but Sarpsborg 08 cannot be underestimated as Brann and Odd clearly did. The traditional cup has a very prestigious position in Norway which is not the case in rest of Scandinavia. A final at Ullevaal against Rosenborg is something every club wants to achieve, so it should not be any difference when it comes to inspiration and motivation between these two teams tonight. It should come down to quality and who wants it the most. It is impossible to be counting on anyone else but Viking in that way. They have been very strong at home all season (7-2-3) and it is always an advantage to play infront of your own crowd in important matches like this. Sarpsborg 08 has not been able to be as good away from home this year (2-6-4), but they have been able to steal a point from most opponents with six draws included. It is also little time for restitution between the games with both league and cup in mind, and Viking should manage that better than the visitors, given the difference of resources between the clubs. They met in the league on the 8th of August as Viking won 0-2. They cannot lay down tonight as anything can happen in a cup match. Viking will have most of the possession, while Sarpsborg 08 must take advantage of counter-attacks. Viking has won both meetings in Tippeligaen this season (3-1 and 0-2), and they should be able to win tonight as well.