PREVIEW: WEEKEND NORWEGIAN ACTION
With the Norwegian season coming to a close, Josh Gatt and Molde start a make-or-break week, while Mikkel Diskerud returns from injury for Rosenborg.
Rosenborg - Sandnes Ulf
After missing the two matches before the international break, Mikkel Diskerud is set to return to Rosenborg's starting lineup against Sandnes Ulf Friday.
The American midfielder struggled with a thigh injury, but after a two-and-a-half week break, Diskerud will be available to help led the charge into the final stretch of the season. Rosenborg will need him, as the team sits two points back of Molde for first place in the Tippeligaen.
Rosenborg is not the only team with something on the line in this game. Sandnes Ulf sits in 15th place, five points out of safety and two points out of the promotion playoff spot, and riding a five-game winless streak, Sandnes Ulf needs a good result.
Hønefoss BK - Stabӕk IF
Steve Clark and Hønefoss look to end an eight-match winless streak against lowly Stabӕk Sunday.
At one point challenging for a European spot, Hønefoss has fallen in the standings, occupying ninth place with 31 points. The team has recorded four points since the beginning of August and has been shut out three times over this winless streak.
Although not mathematically eliminated, Stabӕk's life in the Tippeligaen seems to be coming to a close. The team has recorded a whopping 13 points, nine points behind its nearest competitor and 11 points out of the promotion playoff spot.
Strømsgodset IF - Molde FK
Josh Gatt and Molde have a tough week ahead of them, starting with a matchup against third place Strømsgodset Sunday.
Molde has three big matches in two competitions over an eight-day span that could make or break its season. In Norway, the team travels to Strømsgodset before hosting second place Rosenborg next weekend, both sandwiching a Thursday match against Steaua Bucharest in the Europa League.
Molde coach Ole Gunnar Solskjӕk has admitted that this team will concentrate on winning the Tippeligaen, and a win over Strømsgodset could eliminate one competitor.
Having led the league for most of the season, Strømsgodset finds itself in three points behind the defending champions with five matches to go. A win would swing momentum back toward the team from Drammen.
IL Hødd - Mjøndalen IF
Rhett Bernstein, Kyle Helton and Mjøndalen look to end an ill-timed two-match losing streak against Hødd Sunday.
Mjøndalen had automatic promotion in its sights, sitting in second place at the end of September, but losses to third place Sarpsborg and first place Start has seen the team drop to fourth place, six points out of second. This still leaves Mjøndalen in the promotion playoff hunt, however.
Like Mjøndalen, Hødd comes into the match on a two-match losing streak and needs the points. Hødd is in 12th place, the last safety spot, on goal differential over Strømmen.
Bӕrum SK - Kongsvinger I
Sebastian Troupe and Bӕrum continue their march into the Norwegian third division against Kongsvinger Sunday.
Although not mathematically eliminated yet, Bӕrum would seal its relegation fate with anything less than a win. A win might not be enough anyway- if Hødd or Strømmen get a point this weekend, however, Bӕrum will be eliminated as well.
Kongsvinger seems to be in cruise control at the moment, riding a three-match winless streak. The team sits in ninth place and isn't in danger to become a part of the relegation fight.
Tromsdalen UIL - Ullensaker/Kisa IL
Kenneth Di Vita Jensen and Ullensaker/Kisa can put themselves into the thick of the promotion playoff hunt with a win over Tromsdalen Sunday.
Despite losing four of its last six matches, Ullensaker/Kisa is three points behind fifth and sixth place in the Adeccoligaen, the last two spots for the promotion playoff. With Ranheim (fifth) and Bodø/Glimt (sixth) facing off this weekend, the team can make up some ground.
Tromsdalen is trying to distance itself from the relegation fight, and thanks to two straight wins, the team is four points in the safety. Still, with four matches remaining, Tromsdalen could use a few more points to ensure life in the Norwegian second division.
Forward Chad Barrett will start on Vålerenga's bench against Aalesund Sunday.
Villyen Bijev should make Start's bench for the match against Sandefjord Sunday.
Brendan King will hope to feature for Alta against Sarpsborg Sunday.