Damallsvenskan - Matchday 1 Preview: Sweden's top flight gets going

The likes of FC Rosengard, Eskilstuna United and Linköpings FC all return to action this weekend for the start of the 2016 season.

Damallsvenskan - Matchday 1 Preview: Sweden's top flight gets going
Can Rosengard kick off their title defence with a win? (Photo: svenskfotboll.se)

The long wait is over and this weekend the Damallsvenskan returns for the 2016 season.

Fresh off the back of an exciting transfer window that has seen many big names both come and go, it's time for the chopping and changing to stop and the football to get underway.

Early chance to show title credentials

It's FC Rosengard who are the defending champions in 2016, but their ability to retain their crown has been doubted already in pre-season.

With the likes of Linköpings FC and Eskilstuna United looking very strong coming into the campaign, the 2015 winners will be looking to make their mark in the opening week by recording a convincing win over Kristianstads DFF with a top quality performance to match.

Last year's seventh-placed team did manage to hold Rosengard to a goalless draw last season, but that was on home soil. This weekend's game will take place in Malmö instead, where the hosts ran out 7-0 victors in 2015.

After the champions open up the action on Saturday, Linköping and Eskilstuna will follow with fixtures on Sunday. The former face Malbackens IF, who survived the drop by only goal difference last season, while the latter host newly-promoted Djurgårdens IF in fixtures both will expect to comfortably win.

All three will be confident of picking up victories to start their seasons, but they will certainly have to grind them out against opponents who will not roll over.

Dark horses?

If any of the expected big three do slip up, the likes of KIF Örebro and Piteå IF will be hoping to pounce and get an early upper hand as they aim for an unlikely UEFA Women's Champions League spot.

Last season's fifth and third placed teams respectively, they face two teams looking to push their way up the standings in 2016.

Örebro, who have recruited well over the off-season, have the easier task as they play hosts to Umeå IK. Umea were far too involved in the relegation battle for their liking last year, eventually finishing eighth in the standings, but they do have some talent that could trouble KIF.

As for Piteå, Göteborg FC are their opponents, again on their own soil. They had a strong season last term, finishing sixth and laying a good foundation for this coming campaign, and now they will be looking to build on it, starting by making a statement against one of the league's top sides on the opening weekend.

Göteborg held Piteå to a goalless draw at home last year, but the reverse saw this week's hosts win by a 4-0 scoreline. It's certainly a match that could trouble the latter then, but one that could be easy if they execute their game plan properly.

Can Piteå go one better this season and hit the top two? (Photo: Piteå IF)
Can Piteå go one better this season and hit the top two? (Photo: Piteå IF)

Early season relegation six-pointer?

A clash between Vittsjö GIK and newly-promoted Kvarnsvedens IK completes the week one line-up in a potentially crucial game; even at this early stage.

Vittsjö struggled last year, finishing just two places and six points above the drop in the end, but they have recruited well over the off-season to try and avoid a similar 2016.

Going forward is where they have particularly strengthened, and they will be looking to make a statement this weekend and show that they can achieve much more in the coming season.

Kvarnsvedens, on the other hand, are looking to prove their worth in the top flight after winning last year's Elitettan. With both keen to distance themselves from the drop, and a tag of relegation candidates, they will expect nothing less than three points in their first outing of the new campaign.