2016 Damallsvenskan team preview: Djurgårdens IF
Djurgårdens IF return to the top flight this year. (Photo: VAVEL/Jonny Walsh)

Djurgårdens IF is one of the big teams in Swedish women’s football, having won the league numerous times in the club's history. They were also in the final of the UEFA Women’s Cup in 2004/2005 against German outfit 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam. It is a club with strong traditions, so it was to the disappointment of many that they were relegated in 2012, and have found themselves out of the fine company ever since.

However, last season Djurgården finished as the runner-up in the second division, the Elitettan, which was enough to earn them promotion to the Damallsvenskan. Prior to the season, they were expected by most to earn promotion, and they lived up to that bill. This will be their 19th season in Damallsvenskan.

Team for 2016

Djurgården have been aware of the need to add players with experience, and it is evident from their off-season movements that experience was a key scouting factor. The club have brought in the likes of Iceland's number one goalkeeper Guðbjörg Gunnarsdóttir and Swedish national team member Emilia Appelqvist, who has been brought in from Piteå.

However, the likes of Katrin Schmidt, who has many seasons at Rosengård to her name, Finnish national team player Annika Kukkonen, and the very promising Johanna Kaneryd are also nice additions to the squad. Almost of equal importance is it that they have managed to keep hold of several of their top players too.

Djurgården also got a new coach prior to the season. Yvonne Ekroth, who previously worked as a coach for Sweden U17, has taken charge of the club. Her assistant will be Annelie Norén, together with Mikael Söderman and Elaine Moura.

Goalkeepers: Guðbjörg Gunnarsdóttir (new), Susanne Nilsson, Rebecca Rudner.
Defenders: Elin Borg, Lisa Moazzeni, Kim Sundlöv, Sofia Nilsson, Petronella Ekroth (new), Sheila van den Bulk (new), Sandra Lindkvist (new).
Midfielders: Emilia Appelqvist (new), Alexandra Höglund, Katrin Schmidt (new), Therese Persson, Annika Kukkonen (new), Johanna Rytting Kaneryd (new).
Forwards: Hanna Lundqvist, Madeleine Stegius, Mia Jalkerud, Johanna Wikström, Carolina  Mendes (new).

Players lost from the previous season: Mikaela Uthas (Hovås Billdal), Matilda Östergaard (Hovås Billdal), Sofie de Besche, Elin Nilsson, Emilie Eriksson (AIK), Mikaela Sundlöv (Sunnanå SK), Matilda Rosqvist (AIK).

Djurgårdens team for the 2016 season. Source: dif.se/damer/
Djurgårdens team for the 2016 season. Source: dif.se/damer/

Pre season results

Eskilstuna United DFF 1-0 Djurgården

Djurgården 3-0 Ilves 

KIF Örebro 3-1 Djurgården

Djurgården 3-1 Sundsvalls DFF 

Åland United 1-4 Djurgården 

Djurgården 2-3 PK35 Vantaa 

Djurgården 1-6 Linköpings FC 

Key players

Djurgården have many interesting players. However, their forward duo consisting of 26-year-old Mia Jalkerud and 21-year-old Madeleine Stegius is hard to ignore. Both players were a part of the side that were relegated in 2012 and, while Jalkerud left for Norway after that, Stegius stayed on. She was later re-joined by Jalkerud and they have formed an incredible striking force together ever since.

In 52 games together, they have scored an outstanding 94 goals (according to aftonbladet.se). Jalkerud scored 26 of those in the 2014 season and 29 last year, while Stegius scored 21 in 2014 and 18 in 2015. It will be interesting to see if they can make the step up to the Damallsvenskan and continue their goal scoring form there.

However, one of the best transfers this off-season has been Djurgården's acquisition of Emilia Appelqvist. Appelqvist was one of the best midfielders in the league last season and was an integral part of a Piteå team that finished third, exceeding everyone’s expectation. She also became a regular with the Swedish national team; starting in one of their Olympic qualifiers in March and going to 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup with them.

From the outside, a move from a team that finished third to the newcomers could seem strange for someone with Appelqvist's abilities, but she is from the Stockholm area and it was no secret that she wanted to be closer to home. In Appelqvist Djurgården have acquired a solid midfielder who, at 26-years-old, is in the prime of her career.

Expectations for this season

Djurgården have a goal of becoming the great team that they once were, and want to be in the UEFA Women's Champions League in five years. That might be tough this year, but they have had a good transfer window, where they have brought in much needed experience while keeping hold of their key players.

Stegius and Jalkerud have stated to Swedish media outlet Aftonbladet that they don’t want to hang around at the bottom of the standings, and that the top half of the league is the goal. Whether or not that is possible remains to be seen, but other than a few select teams, all the others seem very even and much will depend on how the team's get the season underway and if they can build up confidence.

Djurgården have the players to stay up, and a top half finish will be hard but not impossible. They have played three of the best teams in the league this pre-season, and all have resulted in a loss, which is a worrying sign, but they are only pre-season results.