Finding value in a meaningless game
It's going to be interesting to follow the teams at the top and the bottom of the Norwegian Eliteserien as it enters it's final three rounds of fixtures. There are however a host of mid-table teams that have nothing to play for, such as Vålerenga and Sarpsborg, who will meet on Saturday and where I think you can find some real value in backing the home team.
- League Position: 8th with 37 points
- Form: L-L-D-W-L
- Home stats: 6-4-3 22 points
The Oslo-based Vålerenga began the season wonderfully and after ten games I really thought that this team was going to compete for a spot in Europe. Then came an awful summer in which they seemed to lose all their form as well as a sub-par autumn. Now I can see how wrong I was at the start of the season. I do, however, believe that the table isn't displaying the whole picture, and I'll stand by my belief that Vålerenga are one of Norway's five best teams. Now they are mid-league and have nothing left to play for with three matches left. It can't have come as a huge surprise that they lost their last away game against Strömsgodset, a team that had everything to play for. At home, after a few unsatisfactory performances I think they'll bite back this weekend against Sarpsborg.
- League Position: 9th 36 points
- Form: W-D-L-L-L
- Away stats: 3-4-6 13 points
This team have been a bit of revelation for many people this season after their performances in the Europea League where they currently sit second in their group above both Besiktas and Malmö FF. But their European escapades have come at a cost and it might come as no surprise to those that know about this team that their domestic form has taken a hit. The thing is Sarpsborg have a very thin squad and with their focus so heavily on the Europa League they've basically let their domestic season go. In the Europa League teams get thousands of pounds for every victory, which is a huge deal for a club like Sarpsborg. Now, as they don't have anything to play for in the Eliteserien you can be sure that 100% of their focus will be on the Europa League. This weekend they will play a meaningless match before they head into a massive away game against Malmö FF next week. I think I know what match they are going to prioritise.
Vålerenga are better than their league position suggests and even though there is only a point between Vålerenga and Sarpsborg I believe the home team are a significantly better team. Add to this that they are at home and we have a clear favourite. I have a strong feeling that Vålerenga are really up for this match after a series of poor results and see this as a grudge game after their 3-0 away loss to Sarpsborg in the spring. Sarpsborg are focused on the Europa League, they have nothing riding on this match but thousands of pounds depending on the outcome of their next game in Sweden. Sarpsborg's form has yo-yo'd since they qualified for the Europa League and now their squad is really spread thin - I just don't think they have the depth in their squad to fight a battle on two fronts. I think the home team have over a 50% chance to win this, so if you're offered odds for double your money or more I would take it.