2016 was in many ways a long déjà vu of the 2015-season. Rosenborg won a highly-expected league title, and secured the first consecutive double title after beating Kongsvinger in the cup final. All predictions for the upcoming season tells us that the giants from Trondheim will be hard to beat this year as well.
A legend is gone, the Lord enters
Last season Molde set fire to Norwegian football by signing the legend Eidur Gudjohnsen. Even though he did not provide too much on the pitch, there was no doubt he gave a boost to the interest for the league. This season it has been taken to a new level. The infamous Nicklas ‘Lord’ Bendtner surprisingly signed for Rosenborg and set fire to newspapers and social media all over Scandinavia.
The Lord comes to a team known for their offensive qualities, and should be a perfect match to revive the great danes limping career. There will always be questions regarding Bendtners motivation, form and scoring frequency, but we all know what abilities the Danish target man possesses. You should not be surprised if Bendtner ends up with 20+ goals this season.
Other highly regarded Norwegians have also returned home this winter. Bård Finne left Brann for FC Köln at an early age, but has struggled to get playing time in Germany. After a bad spell at Heidenheim, he has signed for Vålerenga and must live with high expectations on his shoulders. In Bergen, Torgeir Børven has made his loan spell at Brann permanent, and will be an important piece in Lars Arne Nilsens team this season. Brann ended second last season, which means the city will expect no less in 2017. How will Nilsen cope with the massive pressure in Bergen?
Who will challenge Rosenborg?
The main challengers for the title this season should be Odd and Molde. Both teams have established themselves as top teams over the last seasons, with Odd being the most stabile of the two. They managed to keep most of their key players, and the signing of Agdestein from Haugesund and Broberg from Örebro gives them even more depth that should play to their advantage. Molde has been disappointing after Ole Gunnar Solskjær returned, but there are signs they might improve this year. Solskjær has given hints about less squad rotation which for many has been their main issue in recent seasons.
Despite having great talent, facilities and economy to compete in the top, it seems it has been wasted on too much rotation in the squad and indecisive formation choices by Solskjær. Forren eventually left Norway, and will create a big hole in Moldes defence, which will be a worry for them. If Björn Bergmann Sigurdarson can avoid injuries, he can be a contender for the top scoring title, and we still await Sander Svendsens full potential.
Vålerenga will be the team to watch out for. With the ‘Deila-effect’ we think they will be in the top. A new stadium, great fans and one of the best squads in Norway could, and should be enough. But just as with Brann, they struggle with huge expectations from their fans, and could all these expectations work against them?
Predicting who will fight for relegation in Norway is like the lottery each season. You can always bet on one team you expected to be ‘safe’, will be in the bottom fighting all year long. We are quite sure that both newcomers will struggle this season. Sandefjord and Lars Bohinen are back with their 3-5-2 formation and will make a new attempt. Two years ago, Sandefjord relegated with glory as they were in the bottom from the very beginning, barely winning a match until the fall. With more confidence and many of the same players they will try again. You got to admire Bohinens stubbornness on formation, but we think this will end up in relegation again.
Kristiansund BK is a debutant in the top league in Norway. The team will go in to the season with great enthusiasm and basically no pressure at all. This usually plays to a promoted teams advantage in Norway. You can go far in Norwegian football on will and attitude alone. The main concerns are the squad quality in Kristiansund. They have maybe 2-3 players that we can safely say will do a decent job in ‘Eliteserien’. We think Kristiansund will avoid relegation but should struggle and fight until the bitter end to survive.
Sogndal is a team that surprised everyone last season with tight and energetic football. Coach Eirik Bakke has become a rising star due to the 2016-season. Sogndal does not have fans that expects more after a year of (relative) success and this should give Bakke space to do his job. That being said, Sogndal has a bad habit of relegating now and then, and this just ‘feels’ like a season where they will struggle again, and Furebotn and Koomson will be essential for their survival this season
Aalesund, Tromsø and Stabæk are also all teams that could very well get mixed up in the bottom half struggle.
We think Rosenborg will win it in the end, but how much trouble they will get depends on Odd, Molde or Vålerenga. We are sure there will be major surprises and disappointments, and we simply can’t wait for it all to get started!
Finally, here is our table prediction:
Wish us luck!