Preview: Malmo vs. Elfsborg

League leaders Malmo FF are set to host Elfsborg at the Eleda Stadion in Sweden’s Allsvenskan on Tuesday.

The home side have 28 points and are three clear of second-placed Djurgardens, while seventh-placed Elfsborg have 16 points and will hope they can keep pace with third-placed GAIS, who occupy the division’s final Europa Conference League qualification spot.

Match preview

The hosts are aiming to win the league title for the second season running and have made a strong start by winning nine of their 11 Allsvenskan fixtures, losing just once.

Last term Malmo averaged 2.1 points per game but they have improved this record to an impressive 2.5 this season.

The reigning champions began the season with six straight victories before losing in their seventh fixture, but they have since won three times and drawn once including a 5-0 win against Kalmar last Friday.

However, it is worthwhile noting that Malmo’s solitary loss was a 3-1 away defeat to Tuesday’s opponents Elfsborg on May 5.

Manager Henrik Rydstrom took charge of the club in November 2022 and in the 2023 season made headlines for his less-structured style of play that allowed his players greater positional freedom.

This ambitious approach, inspired by Brazilian Fernando Diniz, helped Malmo regain the title after they finished seventh in 2022.

The Blue Ones have scored 30 goals and conceded on just six occasions, making them the division’s best offensive and defensive side.

It is fair to say that Rydstrom’s unusual setup has brought the hosts a great deal of success, and with his side already on track to exceed last season’s points tally he will be confident that Malmo can avoid a second defeat against Elfsborg on Tuesday.

The visitors are five points from the Allsvenskan’s final Europa League qualification spot but with 19 games still to play this gap could feasibly be narrowed.

Having said that, Elfsborg may be disappointed with their season so far considering they are only averaging 1.5 points per game, a significantly lower figure than last term’s record of 2.1.

Manager Jimmy Thelin has been in charge since January 2018 and helped his team achieve two second-placed finishes in their last four campaigns, their highest league placements since The Yellow Ones won the league in 2012.

Last term Elfsborg finished in second place with 64 points, a tally higher than their most recent title-winning campaign.

However, Thelin’s side are on track for their lowest points haul since 2019 when they ended their season in eighth.

It should be noted that while the away team began 2024 poorly, losing three of their opening five games, they have since won four of their previous six including a 2-0 victory against Halmstad last Friday.

Elfsborg have lost their last four matches on the road by an aggregate of 11-3, and since the beginning of the 2022 season they have a mixed record overall with 16 wins, six draws and 13 losses.

Thelin will need his side to overcome their inconsistency away from home if they are to win against Malmo, who have only lost four times in their 35 home Allsvenskan fixtures since the 2022 season.

Team News

The hosts come into the game with defenders Anton Tinnerholm and Niklas Moisander set to miss out as a result of groin and arm injuries respectively.

Forwards Stefano Vecchia and Daniel Gudjohnsen will also be absent for Malmo due to back injuries and are expected to be available in early June.

After suffering a cruciate ligament injury in January Oscar Lewicki continues his absence and is not scheduled to be back until September at the earliest.

Elfsborg meanwhile could have striker Per Frick back in contention for a starting spot after he returned from injury last Friday with a late substitute appearance.

Elsewhere, defender Niklas Hult is set to be unavailable for his team until early June as he recovers from a thigh injury.

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