Damallsvenskan - Matchday 21 Preview: With two games to go, there is still plenty to play for

Damallsvenskan - Matchday 21 Preview: With two games to go, there is still plenty to play for

The champions might have been found, but there’s still everything to play for in the fight for bronze, as well as three teams battling to become the one team that avoids relegation.

Katja Kragelund

With just two rounds remaining it is time for everything to be decided. First and second place have been confirmed, but two teams, Piteå IF and Eskilstuna United, are still in contention for third. At the other end of the table, three teams are fighting to avoid Damallsvenskan relegation: Umeå IK, Mallbackens IF Sunne and Kristianstads DFF.

Umeå in desperate need of points

Starting from the bottom, Umeå, who is currently last with two points up to the other two contenders, has an upcoming match against Kopparsberg/Göteborg FC. Umeå, who historically is one of, not just Sweden’s but Europe’s biggest clubs, has been riddled with injuries this season, and at times there were concerns if they could even field a team. The injury concerns are mostly behind them now, but the relegation concerns are not.

Points against Göteborg would help their cause. Göteborg finds themselves in fifth place, and have had a decent season, with ups and downs. In their last game Göteborg beat Kvarnsveden 2-1, with goals coming from Pauline Hammarlund and Beata Kollmats. The former is the team’s top scorer with 11 goals, and has continued on from the her fine form at Piteå last season that got Göteborg to sign her.

Elin Rubensson, Jennifer Falk, Maja Göthberg and Adelina Engman are also players to look out for to make the difference. For Umeå, Lina Hurtig is a key player, and the bad news for the club is that she is doubtful for the game against Göteborg. The Swedish international has long been heralded as one of Sweden’s biggest prospects, and while she has suffered injury upon injury, she still continues to impress, and getting her ready for the last two games could be the key ingredient to staying up.

Kristanstads just above water

Another relegation contender is Kristanstads DFF, who is up against Kvarnsveden, who many believed would be part of this relegation battle. However, the Damallsvenskan newcomers has surprised everybody and secured their survival some time ago. KDFF is right now the team above the relegation line, but only by virtue of a better GD than Mallbacken.

Kristianstad has relied heavily on Danish International Johanna Rasmussen this season, and the experienced winger/forward has scored five goals for them this season. Jenny Danielsson is the only other player to have scored more than one goal. Kvarnsveden, as mentioned, has been a positive surprise this season, and is 8th in the league.

A lot has been down to the performance from Tabitha Chawinga who has 13 goals this season, which means she is third most scoring player this season together with Marta. Tiffany Weimer has also been a revelation since signing for the club, and the American has been a welcomed addition to the league. She has scored four goals and is second in the clubs internal goal-scoring chart.  

Mallbacken face the champions

The last relegation contender, Mallbacken, has perhaps the hardest game of them all, when the newly crowned champions from Linköping comes to visit. Mallbacken is currently under the relegation line, but with the same amount of points as Kristanstad above it. In their latest game, they got one of those results that could prove instrumental in ensuring their survival, when a late goal from Antonia Göransson saw the team overcome Umeå.

Young Scottish forward Zoe Ness has scored three goals this season, but has also set up four, and has been a bright spot in an otherwise dark season for Mallbacken. Mallbacken just about stayed in the Damallsvenskan last season, and they will be hoping they can scrape enough points together in the last two games to do the same this time. Today’s opponents from Linköping secured the title last round, but have a desire to go through the season as undefeated. They are just two games shy of accomplishing that.

In the last twenty games, they've managed to get 18 wins and two draws. Linköping have numerous profiles, which is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that most of their players have a real shot at being at next year’s European Championships. However, no profile is bigger than Pernille Harder. The Dane has netted 18 times, and assisted nine times. She is the league’s top scorer, but is closely followed by her team-mate, Stina Blackstenius, who has scored 17 times.

In the last few games Norwegian international, Kristine Minde, has been instrumental and has scored the all important goals against both Vittsjö and FC Rosengård. Jonna Andersson, who is the leagues top assist provider, Renee Slegers, Janni Arnth, Mariann Gajhede, Magdalena Eriksson, Jessica Samuelsson and Claudia Neto are other names that could easily have been highlighted, which just shows why they’ve won the league this year

Vittsjö and Djurgårdens both comfortable

A middle of the table clash awaits when Vittsjö GIK plays hosts to Djurgårdens IF. Both teams have ensured their survival in the league, and in the last two games it’s all abut securing themselves the best finish in the league. Djurgården, who were promoted ahead of the season, has perhaps been the biggest positive surprise of the season, and are in 6th place, only 3 points off Göteborg in fifth place.

A key reason behind their good showing has been their work in the offseason, where they’ve brought in quality players that has contributed to the overall performance. Icelandic goalkeeper Gudbjörg Gunnarsdottir has been one of the best in the league, while Swedish international Emilia Appelqvist and Johanna Rytting Kanerud has ruled on the midfield and the wing. In addition to that, Mia Jalkerud has continued her good form from last season, and has scored nine goals.

Vittsjö is one place behind Djurgården in the table with five points separating the two. Vittsjö has not had a season to remember, and have only managed to get four wins. Their latest game was a 2-0 loss to Linköping, which in itself is not a bad result. The round before that they drew against Kristianstad.

Linda Sällström and Emmi Alanen have both stood out this season, and the finnish internationals occupies the two top spot in the clubs internal top scorer and assist league. Another player that has drawn some headlines lately is 16-year-old Ebba Hed, who scored two late goals against Kvarnsveden three rounds ago, to ensure Vittsjö a 2-2 draw.  

In the fight for third Piteå and Eskilstuna are only separated by a point, with Piteå currently occupying third place. On paper Piteå has the tougher of the two opponents, as they are up against FC Rosengård whoa re second in the league, while Eskilstuna are up against Örebro who have not delivered this year and finds themselves in 9th place, and only just recently secured another year in the league.

Piteå and Rosengård do battle

Piteå has proven once again this season that they are a team to be reckoned with. They lost some instrumental players before this season, but their replacements have seamlessly stepped up. This is best illustrated by the number of first time call-ups the team has gotten to the Swedish NT lately. Hilda Carlén guarded the goal against Norway in Sweden's recent friendly, while Irma Helin got her first call-up and start against Iran. Josefin Johansson has also been getting regular call-ups.

Four of their players; Moa Öhman, Ronja Aronsson, Ellen Löfqvist and Lotta Ökvist, have also been called up for Swedens squad for the upcoming U20 World Cup.  Felicia Karlsson leads the clubs topscorer list with seven goals, while Nina Jakobsson follows suit with five. Tempest-Marie Norlin has been in good form lately, despite being told her contract won’t be extended.

Their opponents Rosengård, had to suffer the agony of seeing their close rivals from Linköping run away with the title last round, when LFC won and Rosengård suffered their second defeat in a row when they faced Eskilstuna. Before these two games, Rosengård hadn’t lost a game in the league. They are ensured of second place, but having lost the last two games, there is a pride in getting back to winning ways and end the season well.

Marta has, as always, been a key player. The Brazilian have scored 13 goals and assisted six, while Ella Masar has scored 12. Lina Nilsson is the member of the squad who has assisted the most goals, with seven. The team have had a number of injury troubles lately, with Lotta Schelin, Gaelle Enganamouit and Lieke Martens all missing out, as well as the long term injured Erin McLeod and Sofie Junge. Iva Landeka is not a player to steal the headlines, but she has looked good in the last few matches.

Örebro, Eskilstuna round off the action

Eskilstuna, who finished second last season, haven’t lost in the league for a long time now. More precisely they haven’t lost since they met Piteå 10 games ago, however they have drawn quite a number of those games. If we discard Linköping and Rosengård, Eskilstuna has the best defensive record as well as the second best offensive record, and as the equation goes, that’s a good recipe for success.

Mimmi Larsson has been a good signing ahead of the season, and the former Mallbacken player has scored 11 goals this season. Marija Banusic is second in the scoring charts with six goals. In the last few games Annica Svensson has shown good form, and Chloe Logarzo, the newly acquired Australian, has showed herself to be a good signing, who is starting to gel with the rest of the team on the pitch.

KIF Örebro has had a poor season, there is no denying that.  They won their latest match 2-1 against Djurgården, but before that they hadn’t won a game in the league for seven games. The team has let in the third most goals of all teams in the league, and in attack, they’re the fourth lowest scoring team, and therein lies a lot of their troubles.

They have great names on their team sheet. Players like Lisa Dahlkvist and Michelle de Jongh operate in midfield, while Julia Spetsmark, who recently got her first call-up the the Swedish national team, has shown good things in attack. In defence, Hanne Gråhns has played well enough to get frequent call-ups for the NT, while they also have the Canadaian forward Melissa Tancredi on the roster. She is also the team’s top scorer with seven goals.