Toppserien - Matchday 17 Preview: Battle at the bottom could be decisive

Toppserien - Matchday 17 Preview: Battle at the bottom could be decisive

It's another busy weekend in Norway's top tier with plenty to play for as the season starts to hit the final stretch.

Jonathan Walsh

Between international breaks, UEFA Women's Champions League qualifiers and everything in between, the Toppserien matchday 17 is just the third game since early July.

That said, there are just six matches - five for some - left and we're right in the business end of the season at the top and bottom of the league.

Røa hoping to shake off poor form against Avaldsnes

Avaldsnes, playing in the first game of the weekend, will hope to get all three points in this game to try and put any pressure on runaway leaders, Lillestrøm. Even with a win, they'll still be four points behind and, it looks like they'll have to settle for second. However, reaching the Champions League knock-outs is a big boost for the club alone.

Røa, on the other hand, are hoping to earn a - albeit unlikely - first win in three games when they take on Avaldsnes. They're yet to find the net since coming back from the summer break and look a shadow of the side that were on a six-game winning streak. They have, though, managed to secure a spot in the cup final against Lillestrøm.

If the first game between these two is anything to go by, we're in for a thriller. At the end of May, Avaldsnes came out on top with the odd strike in a seven-goal thriller.

Vålerenga take on recovering Kolbotn

Things were looking up for Vålerenga after beating Arna-Bjørnar and drawing with Klepp, but that went out the window before the international break with a heavy 5-0 thumping at Stabæk. Those two weeks should have given them sufficient time to get that out of their system, but will be up against it from the start against this week's opponents.

Kolbotn's push for third was ended after a rotten run of results saw them pick up just a single point at lowly Medkila. However, the team bounced back in resounding fashion with a confident and comfortable 7-0 thrashing of Klepp, who had boasted a positive goal difference before Fanny Andersson and Andrea Segtnan Thun both bagged braces.

Juliette Kemppi missed out on the goals in that clash and will be hopeful of getting back amongst them this weekend; especially given Vålerenga's defensive frailties.

Urædd head to Medkila in must win clash

The title race may almost be decided if results go Lillestrøm's way on matchday 17, but there is no doubting the biggest clash of them all. After a very unlikely draw against Kolbotn, Medkila would have surely fancied their chances that a four-point gap to Urædd - who'd picked up just one point all season - meant they'd be in the relegation play-off.

But Urædd had other ideas. Siwe Døvle and Ingrid Bergland grabbed the club's sixth and seventh goals of the campaign to secure a 2-0 win over Arna-Bjørnar and bring them to within a point of Medkila. The issue is whether or not the international break will his stifled their momentum. Not doubt that confidence will still be high, though.

Medkila won the first meeting between the two teams 1-2, with all the goals coming in the second half. Will we see another tense away win on Saturday?

Stabæk face Arna-Bjørnar in a bid to hold on to third

It's been a few months to forget for the hosts, having scored just twice since June. Those two goals have led to wins but the Arna-Bjørnar will be desperate to see their side find some sort of form having lost all of their last four games. It's the worst run of any team in the league; Amalie Vevle Eikeland's winner versus Sandviken is a distant memory.

There could be hope against a topsy-turvy Stabæk side. Their inability to put away the lower sides in the table has proven costly. Despite boasting the second best defence in the league they are still a distant eight points behind Avaldsnes. Goals haven't been easy to come by, and 21 of their 30 have come against the bottom three.

Even though both sides have struggled recently, Arna-Bjørnar have struggled so much in recent weeks that this should be a chance for Stabæk to get back on track.

Trondheims-Ørn play host to imperious Lillestrøm

Like most of the teams in the bottom half of the table, this could be the weekend Trondheims-Ørn confirm their top-flight status for next season. However, the win they require would have to come against the league leaders. After the 7-0 drubbing they were dealt in June by LSK, a result for Trondheim would be slightly surprising to say the least.

There is little more to say about Lillestrøm that hasn't already been said. Emile Haavi grabbed a hat-trick the last time these two met and both herself and Isabell Herlovsen will be keen to add to their tallies; least not with the latter on the verge of breaking the 30 goal mark this term. Herlovsen grabbed four in LSK's last game, can she do it again?

Lillestrøm need four wins from their remaining six games to be assured of the title, and they'll be gunning to make sure it's three from five after this one.

Klepp and Sandviken do battle in mid-table

The only game on Sunday and the final tussle of the matchday will see Klepp try to end Sandviken's three-match unbeaten run. Things had been going fine for the hosts until Kolbotn put seven past them and ruined their miserly defensive record. In fact, Klepp's goal difference would have been just one worse off in comparison to Røa's.

Sandviken have lost just once in their last five games, to Arna-Bjørnar, in a run that has seen them move comfortably clear of the relegation zone. A side that has been very tidy in defence this year, they'll certainly make it difficult for Klepp to break them down this weekend and Sandviken will hope to sting them on the break as a result.

With both teams safe, albeit not mathematically, from the drop they can go out and enjoy themselves to give their end of season spurt a real kick.