The Lion of the North: My Initial Delve into the Swedish Allsvenskan

Introduction

After the success of my South Korean K-League and Danish Superliga discussion blogs, I wanted to continue expanding my knowledge of other leagues. Being unsure on which league to focus on next, I left it to the good people of Twitter to decide on the next location. I left them with the suggestions of Czech Republic, Sweden, Norway, or a suggestion of their choice. Following a large number of votes, and some excellent suggestions such as Finland, Latvia and Gibraltar, the winner of the poll was eventually the Scandinavian country of Sweden.

So, put some ABBA on in the background, start up the Saab and head to the nearest IKEA store for some difficult-to-assemble flat-pack furniture and some meatballs…here is my initial delve into Swedish league football!

 

History

The top professional division in the Swedish football pyramid is called the Allsvenskan (English: All-Swedish).

Allsvenskan Logo
The Allsvenskan logo.

The Allsvenskan national league was founded in January 1924 to replace the regional Svenska Serien leagues, which ran from 1910 until 1924, and consisted of a northern and southern group. The first Allsvenskan champions were the Gothenburg based side, GAIS (Göteborgs Atlet- och Idrottssällskap), who won the inaugural twelve-team league. However rather confusingly, despite it being the highest league in Sweden, they were not considered the Swedish champions. This honour was given to the winners of Svenska Mästerskapet for that year, Brynas IF. The Mästerskapet was a cup competition, which had always decided the formal Swedish champions since 1896. It wouldn’t be until 1931 when the league finally decided the formal champions of Sweden.

Originally the league schedule ran from autumn to spring, in keeping with the majority of European leagues schedule. However in 1959, it was changed to the spring to autumn schedule (the summer football schedule) ensuring the entire season is played within one calendar year. This schedule is still in place today – no doubt influenced by the extreme cold weather Sweden encounters during the winter months, making outside games impossible.

Between 1973 and 1981, the league was expanded to 14 teams, before returning in 12 teams in 1982. Between 1982 to 1990, the champions were decided by end-of-season playoffs and not through the league winners – similar to what happens in the MLS today. However at the start of the 1990’s, another league change took place between 1991 & 1992, when the champions were decided through a continuation league, the Mästerskapsserien, which initially involved 10 teams, but would involve teams from the second tier to determine promotion/relegation.

Thankfully, the Allsvenskan returned to a normal league format and increased back to 14 teams in 1993, where the league winners were declared Swedish champions. This format continued until 2007, when the league was further expanded to accommodate 16 teams. This is the format it still uses today.

The Swedish clubs in the Allsvenskan all play for the Lennart Johanssons Pokal, a trophy which was created in 2001 and named after the former Swedish UEFA chairman (who sadly died earlier this month), and was UEFA chairman from 1990 to 2007. Originally, the Swedish clubs played for a different trophy, which was named after Clarence von Rosen, the first chairman of the Swedish Football Association (SvFF). However the trophy was replaced after it was reported that von Rosen had personal connections with the infamous Nazi leader, Hermann Goering, during his time living in Sweden after the First World War. As a result, the SvFF did not want a trophy which was ‘linked to Nazism’, and created negative discussions every time the trophy was awarded.

In terms of rules for the league, there are only one major rule that is in force for match day squads. For league games, every match day squad (which allows 7 substitutes to be named) must have at least nine players trained by a club in Sweden.

 

Format

As mentioned above, the Allsvenskan is still a sixteen team league. Each team plays each other twice, in home and away fixtures, resulting in every team playing thirty league games in the regular season.

Currently Sweden has four spaces available in the European competitions – one space in the Champions League and three in the Europa League. The Allsvenskan is currently 22nd in the UEFA co-efficient league, the rating based on the performances of its teams in European competitions over the past five seasons. It is currently two spots behind the Scottish Premier League, and just one above the neighbouring Norwegian Eliteserien league.

For this season, the Allsvenskan league winners qualifies for the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, whilst the runners-up and third placed teams in the league qualify for the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. Finally the winner of the Svenska Cupen (the Swedish Cup) also qualifies for the Europa League, but coming into the competition at the second qualifying round phase.

At the opposite end of the table, the two teams who finish in fifteenth and sixteenth positions in the table are automatically relegated to the Superettan (the Swedish second tier). They are replaced by the champions and runners-up of the second tier national league for the following season. Whereas the fourteenth placed side in the Allsvenskan have to play a two-legged relegation/promotion playoff against the third placed side of the Superettan, with the winner claiming the final Allsvenskan spot for the following season.

 

Past Allsvenskan Winners

Since the league began, there have been fifteen different league winners in its history:

  • 23 titles won: Malmö FF
  • 13 titles won: IFK Göteborg; IFK Norrköping
  • 7 titles won: Helsingborgs IF; Djurgårdens IF
  • 6 titles won: AIK; IF Elfsborg
  • 4 titles won: GAIS; Östers IF; Halmstads BK
  • 2 titles won: Örgryte IS; Åtvidabergs FF
  • 1 title won: Kalmar FF; Hammarby IF; IK Sleipner

Malmö has clearly been the most successful club in the Allsvenskan, having on the league on 23 occasions. Their first title came in 1943-44, whilst their most recent title was clinched in the 2017 season. Whilst IFK Göteborg and IFK Norrköping have both won the title 13 times each, with Göteborg’s last title coming in 2007 and Norrköping’s as recently as 2013.

The last team to win their inaugural title was Kalmar FF, who managed to win the 2008 title after coming runners-up to IFK Göteborg the previous season. Hammarby won their only title in 2001, whilst IK Sleipner (currently competing in the Division 3 Nordöstra Götaland League) won their first and only title in the 1937-38 season.

 

Selected Swedish Clubs

Swedish Map
The locations in Sweden of the clubs competing in the 2019 Allsvenskan.

 

MALMÖ FF

Malmö FF

  • Stadium: Stadion, Malmö
  • Nickname: Di Bläe (Scanian: The Blues)
  • Colours: Sky blue shirts, white shorts, sky blue socks

The Scanian side are the most successful team in Swedish league, having won the league 23 times and the Svenska Cupan a record 14 times in their illustrious history. Currently they are still one of the strongest sides in the Allsvenskan, having appeared in the group stages of the Champions League in recent times, as well as being the richest Swedish club in terms of income. They have a fierce rivalry with fellow Scanian side, Helsingborgs, as well as a historically competitive rivalry with regular league rivals, IFK Göteborg.

Di Bläe‘s most successful period was in the 1970’s under the English manager, Bob Houghton, who was in charge between 1974 to 1980. During this golden period, they won the league on three occasions, and the cup four times. However their greatest achievement during this period was reaching the final of the European Cup in 1979. Alas they lost to Brian Clough’s iconic Nottingham Forest side, with million pound man, Trevor Francis, scoring the only goal of the game at Munich. It is still the only time a Nordic country has ever appeared in the final of the European Cup / Champions League.

Another English manager provided Malmö with great success during the second half of the 1980’s. Future England national manager, Roy Hodgson, was in charge of Malmö between 1985 and 1989 and won the Allsvenskan an impressive five years in a row, as well as claiming an additional two Svenska Cupans. Both English managers are held with such high regard by the club’s fans, that they have unofficially named two corners of the 22,500 capacity Stadion after the pair of managers, with Roy’s Hörna and Bob’s Hörna being the ‘singing sections’ in the stadium.

They last won the league in 2017, and finished a creditable third place at the end of the 2018 season. Their current manager is the Manchester City cult hero, and former Brentford, Wigan and Fleetwood manager, Uwe Rösler, who was appointed in July 2018.

 

AIK

AIK

  • Stadium: Friends Arena, Solna, Stockholm
  • Nickname: Gnaget (Swedish: Rodents)
  • Colours: Black shirts, white shorts, black and yellow hooped socks

Allmänna Idrottsklubben (Swedish: The Public Sports Club; commonly known as ‘AIK’) are based in the Solna district of Stockholm. They are the current and defending Allsvenskan league champions, having won the 2018 league by a narrow two point margin. During this century, they have been the most consistently successful team having achieved eleven top-three finishes since the turn of the millennium, despite suffering a relegation in 2004. Overall, they have been Allsvenskan winners on six occasions, Swedish Champions twelve times, have won the Svenska Cupen eight times, and hold the record for the number of top flight seasons played (90 seasons).

Josh Pearce - Friends Arena 2
AIK’s home, the Friends Arena. [IMAGE: Josh Pearce Photography]
AIK are one of three capital city-based teams within the Allsvenskan, along with Hammarby and Djurgårdens, and they enjoy strong rivalries with their cross-city neighbours. Indeed, their rivalry with Djurgårdens is considered as one of the biggest and fiercest rivalries in Swedish and Nordic football, and their derby games are known as the Tvillingderbyt (Derby of the Twins). This is because both Stockholm teams were founded within a few weeks of each other in 1891.

Their current manager is Rikard Norling, who is currently within his second stint with the club. First time around, he managed to get AIK promoted from the Superettan, and followed it up with a runners-up spot, before a disagreement with the board led to him leaving in 2008. He returned to the club in 2016 (after winning the Allsvenskan with Malmö in 2013), and managed to finally win the 2018 title with a joint-record points tally of 67 points.

 

IFK GÖTEBORG

IFK Göteborg

  • Stadium: Gamla Ullevi, Gothenburg
  • Nicknames: Blåvitt (Blue-white); Änglarna (The Angels)
  • Colours: Blue and white striped shirts, blue shorts, blue socks

Idrottsföreningen Kamraterna Göteborg or IFK Göteborg are the second-most successful team in the Swedish league, and one of the most supported sides throughout Sweden. Based in Sweden’s second city of Gothenburg, they have won the Allsvenskan on thirteen occasions, been crowned Swedish champions eighteen times, and have lifted the Svenska Cupan seven times. They are also have the longest ongoing tenure in the top flight, having been in the Allsvenskan since 1977. They are considered one of the “big three” in Swedish football, alongside AIK and Malmö.

To date, IFK are also the only Swedish side to have actually won a European trophy, having won the UEFA Cup (the two-legged knockout precursor of the Europa League) on two separate occasions in the 1980’s. In 1982, they beat the West German side, Hamburger SV, 4-0 on aggregate, managing an impressive 3-0 away victory over one of Europe’s strongest sides, who would go on to win the European Cup in the following season. Whereas in 1987, they just managed to overcome the ‘New Firm‘ Scottish side, Dundee United, 2-1 on aggregate to claim their second European trophy.

Their historical rivals are their cross-city neighbours, GAIS and Örgryte IS (who are both in the Superettan), although the rivalries are not as heated as other cross-city rivalries. The three clubs are part of a football alliance called Göteborgsalliansen, which was established in 1921. Originally they got together to arrange big international games with the best players from each team. However in the modern era, the alliance is foremost known for the three clubs sharing the Gamla Ullevi stadium.

IFK’s fiercest rivalry is with AIK, as they represent the two largest clubs from Sweden’s two largest cities. Sometimes called the “Swedish El Clasico“, it garners the largest nationwide attention due to the size of both team’s support throughout Sweden. In addition it is also the most commonly played game between two rivals, due to the long history in the top division for both clubs.

There is also a fierce competitive rivalry with Malmö, which is sometimes called the Mesta Mästarmötet (English: Clash of the Greatest Champions) due to both club’s historical successes. In recent times, they have also enjoyed a local rivalry with BK Häcken, another team from Gothenburg who also play in the Allsvenskan.

 

IFK NORRKÖPING

IFK Norrköping

  • Stadium: Östgötaporten, Norrköping
  • Nicknames: Peking, Snoka, VitaBlå (English: WhiteBlue)
  • Colours: White shirts with blue trim, blue shorts, white socks

IFK Norrköping are the main club based in Norrköping, a large city located 160km southwest of Stockholm, and nicknamed “Sweden’s Manchester” or “Peking” due to its historic textile industry. Norrköping are the third-most successful team in the Swedish league, having also won the league thirteen times. They were the strongest Swedish side in the post-war period, winning the league five times and cup twice during the 1940’s, and eleven league titles in twenty years.

Their historic team of the 1940’s was managed by the Hungarian coach Lajos Czeizler, and had the famous “Gre-No-Li” attack. Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl and Nils Liedholm were a formidable attacking trio for Norrköping and for the Swedish national team. The trio were instrumental in winning the gold medal for Sweden in the 1948 Olympic tournament, before all three were tempted away from Norrköping to the bright lights of AC Milan and Serie A.

Despite having won eleven titles in twenty years, they would have to wait another 26 years before they won their twelfth league title in 1989. It was another 26 year long wait to claim their thirteenth league championship when they won the Allsvenskan in 2015. Last season they came very, very close to winning their fourteenth league, although missed out by two points to finish as runners-up behind AIK.

Norrköping used to have fierce rivalries with IK Sleipner (another club from Norrköping) and Åtvidaberg (also from the province of Östergötland), but these have lost importance since both teams have been relegated from the Allsvenskan and tumbled down the football pyramid. Today, their biggest rivals are Malmö, with the fixtures between the clubs sometimes known as “The Working Class Derby“, due to the industrial histories of both cities.

 

HELSINGBORGS IF

Helsingborgs IF

  • Stadium: Olympia, Helsingborg
  • Nicknames: Di Röe (Swedish: The Reds)
  • Colours: Red shirts with blue trim, blue shorts, red socks

Helsingborgs IF are the main club for the Scanian coastal city, and Sweden’s fourth biggest city. Helsingborg is also Sweden’s closest point to Denmark, with the Øresund dividing the city from the Danish city of Helsingør, although a regular ferry spans the 4km distance to connect the two cities.

Helsingborgs were formed in 1907 after the merger of two local sides, Svitiod and Stattena. The Reds have won the Allsvenskan on seven occasions, the Svenska Cupen five times, and been Swedish champions five times. They won four of their seven league titles in the pre-war period between 1929 and 1934, before adding a fifth in 1941. They would have to wait another 58 years before claiming their sixth championship in 1999. Helsingborgs last won the Swedish league championship in 2011 to claim their seventh championship.

Despite their successful history, they spent 24 years in Sweden’s lower leagues after getting relegated in 1968, and not returning to the Allsvenskan until 1993. This season they would be returning the top flight, after winning the 2018 Superettan following a two year return in the second tier. Their manager is Celtic legend and local lad, Henrik Larsson, who was appointed in June 2019, and returns to Olympia after playing for the club twice during his illustrious playing career. This will be his second time managing his hometown club, after managing them between 2015 and 2016, although he managed to get them relegated under his first spell in charge.

 

DJURGÅRDENS IF

Djurgårdens IF

  • Stadium: Tele2 Arena, Stockholm
  • Nicknames: Djurgår’n, DIF
  • Colours: Sky and dark blue striped shirts, dark blue shorts, sky blue socks

Djurgårdens IF were founded in 1891 at a café on the Stockholm island of Djurgården (English: Deer/Animal Garden), by a group of young, working-class athletes living on the island. Although they now play in the Tele2 Arena, situated in the Johanneshov district of Stockholm. The club is one of the oldest and successful clubs in Sweden as they have won the Allsvenskan seven times (the most titles for a Stockholm-based club so far), the Svenska Cupen on five occasions, and have been crowned Swedish champions eleven times.

Josh Pearce - Tele2 Arena
The Tele2 Arena in Stockholm. [IMAGE: Josh Pearce Photography]
In the club’s history, Djurgårdens have had three distinct eras when they won the majority of their trophies in their history. Their first successful era was prior to the Allsvenskan being formed. Between 1912 and 1920, when they were crowned as Swedish champions by having won the Svenska Mästerskapet four times. Their successful second era was between 1955 and 1967, when they captured the Allsvenskan championship three more times, as well as finishing runners-up twice.

Then DIF’s third successful era was at the start of the new millennium when they racked up a further three Allsvenskan titles between 2002 and 2005. In addition, they achieved a runners-up spot in 2001, as well as claiming the Svenska Cupen another three times, and achieving the “double” in 2002 and 2005. Their last piece of silverware was earned just last year, when they overcame Malmö 3-0 to win their fifth Svenska Cupen.

As mentioned previously, they have a fierce derby against AIK in the Tvillingderbyt. Despite having being found in 1891, AIK’s founders were from the middle-class, in comparison to DIF’s working-class roots, which adds to the rivalry. They are one of the most supported clubs in Sweden, with most of its supporters living in Stockholm and the surrounding suburbs, with the district of Östermalm, being its traditional stronghold. Djurgårdens also have the royal seal of approval, as they are the favourite club of the Swedish King, Carl XVI Gustaf!

 

HAMMARBY IF

Hammarby IF

  • Stadium: Tele2 Arena, Stockholm
  • Nicknames: Bajen
  • Colours: Green and white striped shirts, green shorts, white socks

The football department of Hammarby IF was founded in 1915 in the Stockholm district of Södermalm, although they now share the Tele2 Arena with their Stockholm rivals, Djurgårdens. In comparison to the other Stockholm teams, Hammarby have not won many honours. They won their sole Allsvenskan in 2001, under the management of Sören Cratz. An amazing achievement considering they were suffering financial issues, the media had written them off, and the manager’s contract wasn’t renewed halfway through the season. Surprisingly Cratz turned Hammarby into a positive, attacking side and they managed to clinch their first championship in the final game of the season.

The club have also never won the Svenska Cup, although they have been finalists three times, in 1977, 1983 and 2010. The 2010 final being impressive considering they were a Superettan club at the time, and had knocked out many Allsvenskan clubs en route to the final, before losing to Helsingborgs by a single goal.

The club’s nickname is Bajen, and a fan of Hammarby is referred to as a bajare or a hammarbyare. Their fans are known to be the most vocal and loyal fans in Scandinavia, with the club having the highest average attendance in the region for the last five seasons, with an average between 20,500 and 25,507. Their vociferous nature was inspired by the English crowds, and they introduced football chants into the Swedish terraces during the 1970’s. Today the club has many supporters clubs, with the largest of them, having over 9000 members in it.

Like Djurgårdens, Hammarby has historically been considered as a club with a working-class fan base, due to its origins in the originally industrial Södermalm district. However today, their fans are from all parts of Swedish society.

 

ÖSTERSUNDS FK

Östersunds FK

  • Stadium: Jämtkraft Arena, Östersund
  • Nickname: n/a
  • Colours: Red & black striped shirts, red shorts, red socks

Östersunds FK are a relatively new club within the Allsvenskan, having only played a combined total of three and a half seasons in the top flight in the club’s history (the current 2019 season being only their fourth season in the top flight). The Jämtland-based side were promoted from the Superettan in 2015 as runners-up, and played their debut season in the top tier as recently as the 2016 season. They are currently the most northernly located side in the Allsvenskan this season.

Having been founded in 1996 after a merger of three smaller local clubs, historically they have been a club who have spent majority of their short history playing in the third tier. However, under the astute and talented management of Englishman Graham Potter (now Brighton & Hove Albion’s manager, via Swansea City), Östersunds rapidly ascended up the pyramid from the fourth tier to the top tier of Swedish football during his seven year tenure.

The amazing pinnacle of Potter’s incredible regime was the club winning the 2016-17 Svenska Pokal, by beating IFK Norrköping 4-1 in the final, and qualifying for the European competition for the first time in their history. A superb performance in the 2017-18 Europa League ensured they qualified for the group stage, and then the knockout stages of the competition, having finished second in their group. Although they acquitted themselves admirably against Arsenal, including a famous 2-1 victory over the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium, they were knocked out by the Premier League side, 2-4 on aggregate.

After Potter left the club during the middle of last season, to take over Championship side, Swansea City, he has been replaced by fellow countryman, Ian Burchnall. Last season they finished in 6th position in the league, with their highest league finish being 5th in the 2017 season.

 

AFC ESKILSTUNA

AFC Eskilstuna

  • Stadium: Tunavallen, Eskilstuna
  • Nicknames: AFC
  • Colours: All orange kit

Athletic Football Club Eskilstuna or AFC Eskilstuna are an Allsvenska club based 110km west of Stockholm. This season they are playing their second ever season in the top flight after having gotten promoted via the playoffs last season. They managed to draw with IF Brommapojkarna 2-2 after two legs, although they gained promotion because of away goals and winning away 2-1. An impressive achievement considering they were 0-2 down with just 25 minutes remaining in the second leg!

The club’s foundations originate from Stockholm-based FC Café Opera, which was founded in 1991 by an Italian restaurateur, who named the club after Cafe Opera, which he owned. They started out in the eighth tier of the Swedish football pyramid but managed to reach the second-tier Superettan in just nine years! In 2005, they merged with fellow Stockholm side, Väsby IF FK, to create FC Väsby United, and replaced FC Café Opera in the Superettan.

After relegation back to the third tier, they merged with Athletic FC in late 2012, which resulted in another name change for the club – AFC United. They played their home matches in Solna until the end of the 2016 season, when they finally got promoted to the Allsvenskan after finishing runners-up in the Superettan. It was prior to their first ever season in the top flight that they controversially moved 110km to the Södermanlander city of Eskilstuna, and changed their name once again to their current name.

They were relegated in the 2017 season but bounced back to the top flight after finishing third in the 2018 Superettan and beating Brommapojkarna in the playoffs.

 

2018 Season

The Allsvenskan

2018 Allsvenskan Table
The 2018 Allsvenskan table – AIK won their sixth league title. [IMAGE: Wikipedia]
At the end of the 2018 season, it was Stockholm’s AIK who stood atop of the pile, winning their sixth title by just two points from runners-up IFK Norrköping. AIK had been top of the table since Gameweek 13, and never let their lead at the top slip, so it was a worthy league victory for the Gnaget. Their stats are very impressive also, and identifies their road to their success. The obvious stat there is that they only lost one game all season, a 0-2 defeat away at Norrköping.

However it was their defense which was the most impressive stat of the season, as they only conceding just 16 goals in 30 league games. This equates to an average of 0.53 goals per game, which is an incredible statistic! Compare that to English Premier League’s best defense, Liverpool, the Reds‘ goal per game ratio was 0.58 goals/game in the 2018-19 Premier League. Only seven of AIK’s goals were conceded the Friends Arena, whilst a further nine were conceded on their travels.

By winning the league AIK qualified for the first qualifying round of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League, whilst Norrköping would have to make do with qualifying for the first qualifying round of the 2019-20 Europa League. Joining them in Europe’s secondary competition would be the 2017 champions, Malmö FF, who dramatically snatched away the final European spot in the league on the final day of the season. After having a miserable first half of the season, they dramatically picked up their form to take third place on goal difference from Hammarby.

It was certainly a gut-wrenching conclusion for Hammarby’s season on missing out on Europe. They had led the table for the first twelve weeks of the season, and had been in the European spots for the previous 29 gameweeks before Malmö overtook them right at the finale of the season.

Gothenburg’s BK Häcken would also qualify for the Europa League in fifth place, as well as being the league’s top goalscorers with 58 goals. They qualified for Europe as they won the 2018-19 Svenska Cupen, by beating AFC Eskilstuna 3-0. A goal after ten minutes from Faltsetas gave the Getingarna the early advantage, before two goals in the final quarter of the hour of the game through Toivio and Lundberg, ensured the cup would be returning to the Bravida Arena for the second time in their history. In addition, Häcken’s Brazilian forward, Paulinho, finished as the league’s top goalscorer with 20 goals.

Östersunds had an eventful and varied season. After the first two games, they were bottom of the table, although they climbed up to third place once 17 games had been played. However they lost their iconic manager Graham Potter to Swansea City halfway through the 2018 season, resulting in English manager, Ian Burchnall, taking control. The Englishman ensured they finished the season in a respectable sixth place. Östersunds would also have the top assister in the league, with Swedish winger, Hosam Aiesh, topping the assist charts with ten assists.

At the opposite end of the table, it would be Trelleborgs FF and Dalkurd FF who would suffer relegation to the Superettan. Trelleborgs only won three games all season, were the league’s lowest goalscorers, and had the joint worst defense in 2018, so I guess they had no complaints in making the drop to the second tier. Whilst Dalkurd spent more weeks in the bottom three than any other team in 2018, and were only outside of the relegation spots for four weeks of the season! Despite this, Dalkurd finished only two points away from earning themselves a brief reprieve in the promotion/relegation playoff.

2018 Superettan Table
The 2018 Superettan table. Helsingborgs and Falkenbergs were automatically promoted, whilst AFC Eskilstuna went into the promotion/relegation playoff. [IMAGE: Wikipedia]
Trelleborgs and Dalkurd were replaced by the 2018 Superettan champions (and seven time Allsvenskan champions) Helsingborgs IF and the runners-up, Falkenbergs FF, who were both returning to the top flight after being relegated in 2016. The fourteenth placed side, IF Brommapojkarna (another Stockholm-based side) played against the third placed side in the Superettan, AFC Eskilstuna in a two-legged playoff to decide the final spot for the 2019 Allsvenskan. BP won the first leg at Eskilstuna by a single goal from Lahne, and three days later had taken a 1-0 lead at home in the second leg. However two goals in ten second half minutes from AFC through Nnamani and Ajeti ensured that playoff finished 2-2 on aggregate, but Eskilstuna would earn promotion on the away goals rule. Heartbreak for Brommapojkarna!

 

European Competitions

In the European competitions, 2017 champions Malmö clearly had the best performance of all the Swedish side who had qualified, as they made it to the knockout rounds of the Europa League. They got through a difficult group with Belgian side, Genk, regular Champions League qualifiers, the Turkish side Besiktas, and the Norwegian side Sarpsborg 08, to finish as runners-up behind Genk. In the last 32, they faced eventual Europa League winners, Chelsea, where they ended up exiting the competition 5-1 on aggregate.

2018-19 Europa League Group I
Malmo would qualify for the Round of 32 in the Europa League by qualifying as runners-up in Group I. [IMAGE: Wikipedia]
As for the other Swedish qualifiers, AIK and BK Häcken made to the second qualifying round of the Europa League, alongside 2017-18 Svenska Cupen winners, Djurgårdens. Unfortunately for Sweden, and its UEFA co-efficiency standings, all three Swedish clubs were eliminated at this stage, and left Malmö as the sole Allsvenskan representatives in Europe. Certainly a huge drop since IFK Göteborg were lifting the old trophy in the late 1980’s!

Malmö FF

(all scores on aggregate)

  • Champs League 1QR: Drita (KOS) 5 – 0
  • Champs League 2QR: CFR Cluj (ROM) 2 – 1
  • Champs League 3QR: MOL Vidi (HUN) 1 – 1(lost on away goals)
  • Europa League Playoff: FC Midtjylland (DEN) 4 – 2
  • Europa League Groups: 2nd in Group I
  • Europa League Ro32: Chelsea (ENG) 1 – 5

AIK

(all scores on aggregate)

  • Europa League 1QR: Shamrock Rovers (IRL) 2 – 1 (after extra time)
  • Europa League 2QR: Nordsjaelland (DEN) 0 – 2

BK Häcken

(all scores on aggregate)

  • Europa League 1QR: Liepaja (LAT) 4 – 2
  • Europa League 2QR: RB Leipzig (GER) 1 – 5

Djurgårdens IF

(all scores on aggregate)

  • Europa League 2QR: Mariupol (UKR) 1 – 2 (after extra time)

 

2019 Season

2019 Allsvenskan Table - 23rd June 19
The 2019 Allsvenskan table (as of the 23rd June 2019). [IMAGE: Svenskfotboll.se]
At the start of the June break in the season, Malmö have returned to the top of the table and are challenging for the title once again, after their disappointing 2018 season. They have currently won nine of their thirteen games played so far, and accumulated 30 points from a possible 39 points! They have been leading the table since Gameweek 7, and look a strong contender to continue their lead throughout the summer months!

Behind them are the Stockholm “twins” of Djurgårdens and AIK who are joined at the hip on 24 points (six points behind Malmö). They are followed by the Gothenburg-based sides of IFK Göteborg and BK Häcken, who are a further three points behind in fourth and fifth places respectively. Whilst Hammarby and last season’s runners-up, IFK Norrköping, are sixth and seventh. IF Elfsborg complete the top half of the table on 17 points.

At the bottom of the table, it is not looking good for the three promoted sides as all three of them occupy the bottom three positions in the Allsvenskan. AFC Eskilstuna and Falkenbergs are currently deep within the relegation zone, having earned just a win each so far this season, whilst Helsingborgs are in a battle to get out of the relegation/promotion playoff spot. Also Helsingborgs are the first side to have made a management change during the season. Per-Ola Ljung was fired on the 15th June, and replaced with ‘favourite son’, and Swedish striking legend, Henrik Larsson, in his second spell as manager.

Finally, the current top goalscorer is Norwegian international striker, Tarik Elyounoussi, who has accumulated nine goals for AIK, although Norrköping’s Jordan Larsson and Malmö’s Markus Rosenberg, are just behind him with eight and seven goals respectively. Whilst in the assist charts, four players have four assists a piece. Djurgårdens have two players, Nicklas Bärkroth and Jonathan Ring, whilst AIK’s Eritrean international Henok Goitom and Göteborg’s Benjamin Nygren have four assists also.

 

 

So that completes my initial delve into the Swedish Allsvenskan. A big thank you to everyone who voted in the Twitter poll that I initially posted, I have really enjoyed learning about Swedish league football and have gained an increased appreciation for it. I hope you have also learnt something from my blog and have enjoyed reading about the Allsvenskan and its teams. Hopefully I will be able to research more leagues in the future, with the Norwegian league being the obvious next choice of focus, considering it finished second in the poll.

If you have any questions, opinions or feedback on this blog, please contact me through the comments box below, or via Twitter @The94thMin. I would be eager to hear your thoughts, and also if you follow any Swedish teams and the reason for it!

Tack!

Ko-fi_Gold

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