The Norwegian league known as the Tippeligaen or Eliteserien is almost halfway through its season. This weekend serves up a clash between two title contenders with second placed Norwegian giants Rosenborg travelling to fourth placed Viking. Rosenborg lie four points above the hosts and just two points behind the league leaders.
Last season’s fifth place finish was Viking’s highest since 2007, when they finished third. Coach Kjell Jonevret’s appointment midway through last season seemed to work wonders for the Stavanger-based club as they moved from tenth in the table to fourth after just seven games. They have carried that excellent form from last season into this season. They sit in fourth place, just six points off the log leaders and have an excellent chance of closing opponents Rosenborg’s four point gap over them to just one point. The Norwegian league restarted last weekend after a three week annual summer break and that didn’t do Viking well as they fell to a 2-1 away loss to Aalesund who leapfrogged them into third place. They went unbeaten in their final five games before the break. This weekend they return to home soil where they are unbeaten with four wins and two draws, scoring nine goals and conceding just three. Their last league match before the summer break saw them beat Tromso 2-1 at home with in-form striker Trond Olsen netting a brace. Olsen is an experienced striker who has played over 300 matches in the Tippeligaen. He joined from Rosenborg two seasons ago and one would think he would like nothing more than to get a goal and victory against his former team. Viking will also be looking forward to having striker Veton Berisha back from a relatively long-term elbow injury. The 19 year old is a key player for them.
Rosenborg is Norway’s most successful team, having won 22 league titles, nine Norwegian Cup titles and played more UEFA matches than any other Norwegian team. However, their last league title came in the 2010 season and having finished third for the last two seasons since, they look on track to build on that finish and challenge for the title. They lie just two points off log leaders Stromsgodset after beating them 1-0 last weekend. That win extended their unbeaten run to seven games and nine in all competitions, of which they won seven and drawn only two. They have also been impressive away from home losing just once this season and winning four of their six travels. They have won their last two away games in the league and more recently an away cup tie. The side remain one of the most ruthless attacking outfits in the league at their best
Looking at recent head-to-heads, Rosenborg are a solid bet not to lose (win/draw at 4-10). They are unbeaten in the last 15 meetings against Viking which stretches back to the 2006 season. Of those 15 matches they have won 10, scoring a massive 28 goals in those victories. They won this fixture 4-1 last season. They have scored three goals more away from home than Viking have scored at home. Back the away win at a valuable 15/10.