The crazy month has arrived…
With a month of the season left, Saša Ibrulj looks at the Allsvenskan title race and asks if Håcken, Elfsborg, AIK and Malmö can all sprint to the finish line.
This week’s Skåne derby confirmed, yet again, how crazy and interesting this season is. All of the required ingredients were there – the rivalry, a full packed stadium, great atmosphere, a vital match for both teams, solid football and, well, refereeing mistakes. Malmö grabbed a valuable point, but the outcome could easily have went to any of the sides. But, that is the best thing in this title race – this league, in terms of quality, is very equal, and the small details will bring the title to the winner.
One of those details is certainly the pressure.
The whole country is talking about the title race and the question is: can all four runners sprint in to the finish line?
The top four teams are now under huge pressure and, at the end of the campaign, that could be decisive. Of course, there are certain differences in terms of quality, but none of the four teams are so dominant that they can easily claim the points against the clubs from the middle or bottom of the table. On contrary, most of the clubs will play this season’s title run in without any pressure on their back, and just do their best to have fun and make things harder to the title contenders. And that can, as this round proved, be harmful to the top four.
That is a good thing for the league – teams like Helsingborg, IFK Göteborg, Norrköping, Djurgården and Kalmar, the teams that have serious quality and have nothing to lose, could have a crucial influence on this title race and will probably, until the last day, do that.
What the Skåne derby also, unfortunately, confirmed is that the roles of the referees will increase.
Not because they want that, but because every corner or foul in the centre of the pitch is now much more important than before. That is part of the game. The refs will make mistakes, which are unavoidable as they are only humans, but what is important is to reduce the public pressure on them, so they can do their jobs the best they can.
Seven more matches, 21 points at stake and four title contenders. Full packed stadiums, motivated players, tactical battles, all of the excitement, including some refereeing mistakes, the crazy month is in front of us.
Football at its best, what else we could ask for? Enjoy!