The Race for the AllsvenskanThe Swedish Premier League has kicked off signalling the end of winter. In recent years, Swedish clubs have had a less-than-stellar record in European competitions, so the top division is the main prize on offer for those looking for success. Nowadays, Swedish players with suitable pedigree don't even get a chance to cut their teeth in the domestic league and instead are whisked off to academies of top clubs across Europe. However, the league remains well-supported and funded, and the current season promises to be a fascinating battle between the three favourites.
Malmö FFThe youth club of Sweden's global superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, still going at 41 in Serie A, Malmö FF has started the season as favourites. Outright markets currently have them priced at odds of 37/20 to win the league. While further markets are available in the form of goalscoring odds and soccer jackpots which offer prizes for predicting the outcome of eight selected matches. Malmö is the traditional powerhouse of Swedish football but struggled last season. However, they remain the most likely to be first come the end of the season.
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BK Häcken GothenburgNot to be confused with IFK Gothenburg (IFK Göteborg), BK Häcken are a relatively newer club in the city. They were founded in the 1940s by a group of teenagers and have worked their way up the league pyramid since. They count former Arsenal and Juventus playmaker Kim Kallstrom among their alumni. The millennium began fighting relegation, but those days are in the past. Last year they finished as champions, a decade after gaining their only runner-up spot.
Priced at 3/1 to retain their title, the squad is mostly made up of Swedish players along with some West African talent. One such player, Ibrahim Sadiq, is expected to lead the attack following the departure to Greece of top scorer Alexander Jeremejeff. With seven goals and four assists in the league-winning campaign, he will hope to further improve this year and have a say in the race for top goalscorer.
Djurgårdens IFJoel Asuro and centre forward Victor Edvardsen are Djurgårdens two key attacking players looking to help Djurgårdens IF to the title. Asuro has spent time in England as a youngster and much is still expected of him. He made his national team debut this year and has already got his first goal. Although third favourites at 9/2, the club will hope to mount a prolonged title challenge. They finished runners-up last year and last won the title in 2019. They will hope this experience and pedigree when it comes to challenging at the top end of the league will stand to them.
In the late 1980s, Sven-Göran Eriksson, the most decorated Swedish manager, steered IFK Gothenburg to UEFA Cup success. These days are gone but with a mix of traditional powerhouses and younger upstarts fighting it out for the domestic title, it should be an entertaining season. A bonus for those concerned with the fortunes of Swedish football would be a good European campaign to bring back memories of yesteryear.