DAVID SMITH - Friday, June 24, 2011
Josh Gatt and Molde will try to hold onto their lead in the Tippeligaen standings while Mikkel Diskerud and Stabaek will do their best to end a three-game winless run.
Tromsø IL - Stabaek IF
Mikkel Diskerud will be in Stabaek's starting lineup on Sunday when they try to turn around their recent slow run on their visit to second-place Tromsø IL.
A narrow loss to relegation-threatened Stavanger last weekend continued Stabaek's slow drop through the standings. Entering the 13th round of games, they are still within shooting distance of the top places of the league with just a four-point gap separating them from first place, however will need to quickly get a handle on things or face the prospect of losing too much ground.
Their biggest weakness throughout the season has been the defense, where they have allowed a league's worst two goals per game, however they can take heart that they have only conceded one in each of their last two, putting the onus on Diskerud and the rest of the attack to get things going up front.
Tromsø are coming off a midweek loss in the Norwegian Cup to second-tier team Alta, which could leave the team slightly worse for the wear for Sunday's game.
Prior to being dumped from the cup, last weekend's 3-1 loss to Rosenborg put an end to a previous four-game winning streak across all competitions, and they are surprisingly challenging for top league honors, trailing Molde by only a single point.
Both teams are reporting full squads for the game.
Odd Grenland Skien - Molde FK
Josh Gatt will hope that a strong midweek performance will keep him in Molde's starting lineup on Sunday when they pay a visit to Odd Grenland.
Sean Cunningham could be included on the team's bench, although has yet to feature in league action.
Gatt has proven to be a worthy option on the right side of the defense for Molde's coach Ole Ole Gunnar Solskjær in recent games.
His performance in their midweek 3-1 cup win over Hønefoss was perhaps his best so far, as he helped to neutralize their opponents' attack after an early goal, and was also effective on the attack in setting up one goal during the run of play.
It also speaks volumes that the team has won three straight with him in the starting eleven, which has not only put them through to the Cup quarterfinals but also thrust them to the top of the Tippeligaen standings.
The team will hope to add another win to their current four-game run against a Grenland team which is hovering just above the drop zone and has only managed three wins through their first 11 games.
Molde should have all players available while Odd will be without Mattias Andersson, Torgeir Børven, Fredrik Semb and the suspended Simen Brenne.
Ham-Kam - IL Hødd
Jonathan Borrajo will be holding down the right side of Ham-Kam's defense on Sunday when they square off against IL Hødd in a battle for the Adeccoligaen's first place spot.
Ham-Kam's are without a doubt the hottest team in the Norwegian second tier, with their current six-game winning streak pulling them from the relegation zone all the way to the upper reaches of the division standings.
They are currently locked in a three-way tie with Hødd and Ranheim on 21 points, and are only trailing their Sunday opponents by goal differential.
The top seven places in the Adeccoligaen are separated by a total of just three points, meaning that a loss could feasibly see them drop several places, although a win will almost certainly see them come out at the end of the weekend at the top of the pile.
They do boast the league's second best defense - with only Hødd holding a slight edge - although have given up just a trio of goals in their last six.
Both teams are reporting full rosters available for the game.
Hønefoss BK - Alta IF
Steve Clark and Kenneth Di Vita Jensen will try to forget their midweek cup disappointment when Hønefoss host Alta IF on Sunday.
Jensen managed to give Hønefoss an early lead in their cup game against Molde earlier in the week sparking momentary thoughts of a huge upset, however the defense collapsed in the second half to knock them out of the competition.
Aside from the loss, they have performed relatively well in the weeks prior, going undefeated over the last four league games to rest just two points off the lead.
They could be in for a tough time against an Alta team which knocked off their top-tier competition Tromsø in their own cup game, in a win which they will hope will help to turn around an otherwise lackluster league campaign.
Hønefoss should have the same team available which has started their recent games and Alta are also reporting no absences.
Joseph Bendik will be on Sogndal's bench on Sunday when they host Fredrikstad.
Kyle Helton will hope to continue seeing substitute minutes for Mjøndalen when they visit Bodø/Glimt on Sunday.
Colin Burns will be on the bench as Sandefjord's backup keeper on Sunday when they visit Ranheim IL.