Falkenbergs v Malmo | Sunday 5th May 2019, 14:00
We might only be six games into the new Swedish season, but the table is already beginning to position itself out, certainly for these two sides.
Falkenbergs were tipped by many to struggle this season as one of the smaller clubs in the top flight. They already find themselves at the bottom of the standings, conceding 13 goals in the process.
Malmo, on the flip side, sit in second, with them having 11 points to their name, which is also the same as Djurgarden, Elfsborg and Ostersunds to make it a four-way tie at the summit. Malmo will expect to add another three points to that tally on Sunday.
No two games are ever the same, but judging by the sort of opposition Falkenbergs have already faced, then we may get some idea as to how this encounter could finish. They already played Ostersunds, plus two other fancied sides in the form of Norrkoping and Hacken. 10 of the 13 goals Falkenbergs have conceded have come solely against those three opponents.
Malmo therefore make the two-hour journey hoping for some of the same. Malmo have won the last four meetings, the scores being 4-3, 2-0, 3-0 and 2-0.
Uwe Rosler very much has intentions of delivering a 24th Allsvenskan title, the last coming in 2017. They suffered a shock loss to Sundsvall on the second matchday, but other than this they’ve started to look like a serious title contender already. Some slight encouragement for Falkenbergs is that Malmo certainly do prefer it more at home compared to away. As mentioned, they lost at Sundsvall, whilst they only edged past Sirius 1-1, before a decent enough 1-1 draw at Norrkoping.
Falkenbergs are back in the top-flight having won promotion last season, where they came second to Helsingborg. Bearing in mind that Helsingborg are currently only just outside the relegation places, it highlights the real difference between the top two leagues in Sweden.
If Falkenbergs are to stay up, then home form will be key. Their solitary win so far did come here versus Orebro, but games against Malmo aren’t really going to decide their fate. They can therefore approach this as underdogs, with all the pressure and expectancy firmly on Rosler’s men.
Malmo are odds-on to secure another win here, which serves as no surprise. Locating a bit of value whilst keeping them on side has to be the way we look at things here. I do like the look of Malmo to win and Under 3.5 Goals, which is available at 5/4 (Betway).
As we’ve touched upon, Malmo don’t tend to blow teams away when on the road. Including the end of last season, in their last 11 away games in all competitions, they’ve only scored 2+ on two occasions. They might just be glad to get the job done here in a potential banana skin, especially with a tough game versus Elfsborg next up.
Willem II v Ajax | Sunday 5th May 2019, 17:00
Seemingly everyone’s favourite team, with the exception of Spurs fans, Ajax are back in action this weekend as the final of the KNVB Beker, the Dutch FA Cup to you and me, takes centre stage in the Netherlands.
De Kuip, the home of Feyenoord, will play host to the event on Sunday night.
Willem II are chasing their third success in this tournament, the last coming all the way back in 1963. Ajax are seeking a 19th cup title, although it will surprise many to know the last of which came in 2010 – they last won the league in 2014, so they’ve not actually won a trophy for quite a few years. Even so, Ajax are in pole position to win the Eredivisie, whilst they are also favourites to secure a spot in the Champions League final.
It is important that we give Willem II a more than deserving mention ahead of this one however. Whilst the easy thing to do is applaud Ajax for everything they are doing, Willem have done incredibly well to reach this showpiece event. Some will argue that they’ve had a relatively easy route to the final – they’ve been at home in every round, with AZ in the semi’s being the only top-flight club they faced – but they did beat second tier leaders Twente in the quarters, who will be back in the Eredivisie next season.
Unfortunately for Willem II, they face an Ajax outfit on the absolute crest of a wave at the moment. This young, vibrant, talented and energetic side simply don’t understand the word defeat. They’ve lost just once in their previous 16, 14 ending in wins, and one of the two they didn’t win was a draw to Juventus. They’ve beaten Real Madrid, Juventus and Spurs away in that time, whilst also defeating strong domestic sides like Feyenoord and Vitesse, whilst also beating Willem II 4-1 in the league.
This has ultimately been a one-sided affair for several years now. Willem II did earn a shock 2-1 win in Amsterdam in August 2016, with the likes of Andre Onana, Joel Veltman and Donny van de Beek in the Ajax team at the time, and will again take to the field on Sunday. However, we’d then have to go all the way back to 2008 for the second most recent time Willem II has defeated Ajax.
Stranger things have happened in football however. Wouldn’t it just be football for Willem II to win? The whole world is talking about Ajax, but could they take things for granted on this occasion? Could they have one eye on the return leg with Tottenham next week? This is a Willem II side who are well rested for a week-and-a-half ahead of the game of their lives. The football gods might could come to the fray again, but why on earth would you back against Ajax at the moment?
Finding value on Ajax in a domestic game is always a challenge, but one I always look towards for teams like them and PSV in netting in each half. Ajax to Score in Both Halves is priced 4/5 (William Hill) on this occasion. Erik ten Hag’s side has managed to achieve this in 72% of their Eredivisie matches this season.
Falkenbergs v Malmo – Malmo to win and Under 3.5 Goals (5/4 Betway)
Willem II v Ajax – Ajax to Score in Both Halves (4/5 William Hill)