A war of words is brewing as AIK and IFK Göteborg face a Nov. 1 showdown match in Göteborg. Although league-leaders AIK and second-place IFK Göteborg each has two matches left to play before the season ends Nov. 1, the final day is likely to decide which teams lifts the Lennart Johansson trophy when they meet at Gamla Ullevi Stadium in Göteborg.
By Chipp Reid
It looks like the 2009 Allsvenskan will come down to one game.
Just one point separates AIK and IFK Göteborg after both teams picked up crucial victories in Round 27. AIK won 1-0 at home over Gefle while Göteborg claimed a rare road victory when it beat Malmö 1-0 at the Swedbank Arena.
The results kept the two teams neck and neck as the Nov. 1 showdown match loomed over the season. Going into Round 28, that began the weekend of Oct. 23, AIK topped the table with 54 points. IFK Göteborg was second with 53 while third-place Elfsborg remained mathematically in the hunt for the title with 50 points.
Göteborg claimed the most impressive victory among the leaders as it played what was the hottest team in the Allsvenskan. Malmö went into Round 27 riding a five-game winning streak in which it outscored its opponents 21-4. Göteborg went into the game needed a win. The two met Oct. 19. AIK played its Round 27 match Oct. 17 and its 1-0 win made the Malmö match a must-win for Göteborg.
Thomas Olsson scored the lone goal of the match at the 27-minute mark as Göteborg smothered what was the highest-flying offense in the league. The victory touched off a war of words between Olsson, the Göteborg midfielder, and AIK midfielder Gabriel Özkan, who scored the only goal in the Gnaget’s win over Gefle.
“I think as long we put pressure on them to win, it means we’re driving the league,” Özkan said. “We’re the team that’s in first and all we need to do is win our games. As long as we keep winning, it doesn’t really matter what they do.”
Olsson, understandably, saw things slightly different.
“I think going to Malmö and beating them on their home ground is a lot tougher than winning at home,” Olsson said. “I think it shows we have the better team. We can now win any where.”
Road matches have been the Achilles heel in Göteborg’s season this year. The Angels have the best home record in the league, going unbeaten at Gamla Ullevi. Away from home, however, IFK has just five wins in 14 matches.
“AIK simply isn’t as good as us,” Olsson said. “We beat them the last time we played (at Rasunda Stadium) and I am sure we will beat them again, especially since we’re playing at home this time.”
Özkan said AIK would make Olsson eat his words.
“We haven’t had problems winning on the road,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where we play. We have a strong team from goalkeeper to forward. Everyone is playing at top form right now.”
AIK is one of three teams with a winning road record. Only Malmö, with seven away wins, has more victories on hostile ground than AIK, which has six road wins. The Gnaget also have the fewest road losses of any team, suffering defeat just three times away from home.
The Gnaget also entered into a bit of gamesmanship prior to Round 28, seeking a change in venue from Gamla Ullevi to Nya Ullevi. AIK’s front office asked for the change citing security concerns among the Göteborg police. AIK fans are famous – and at time infamous – for their displays. Gamla Ullevi, with a capacity of 15,000, lacks some of the amenities of Nya Ullevi, which can hold 40,000 people.
AIK management said in a letter to the Svenska Fotbollförbundet it believes moving the venue would not only allow more people to safely attend the match but since the game would likely decide the Swedish title, the former World Cup stadium was a more fitting place for the match.
The Swedish FA has yet to rule on the request, although Göteborg management dismissed the request as nothing more than a ploy.
AIK 1, Gefle 0 SOLNA – AIK continued to hold its slim lead in the standings with a 1-0 win over Gefle. Gabriel Özkan, who entered the game as a substitute at the 68-minute mark, scored in the 70th minute off a pass from Jorge Ortiz. The victory kept AIK one point ahead of IFK Goteborg in the race for the 2009 title.
Göteborg 1, Malmö 0 MALMÖ – IFK Göteborg cooled off the hottest team in the Allsvenskan with a 1-0 win over Malmö at Swedbank Arena. Thomas Olsson scored the lone goal of the match in the 27th minute. The victory kept IFK neck-and-neck with league leaders AIK.
Elfsborg 1, Trelleborg 0 TRELLEBORG – Elfsborg kept its slim title hopes alive with a 1-0 win over Trelleborg. Martin Ericsson scored the only goal of the game at the 74-minute mark. Elfsborg is currently in third place, four points behind AIK.
Kalmar 2, GAIS 2 KALMAR – The defending champions all but fell out of the championship race following a 2-2 draw with GAIS in a match that was a battle of Brazilian scorers. Daniel Sobralense and Reinaldo tallied for Kalmar while Wanderson do Carmo had a goal and an assist for GAIS. The draw left fourth-place Kalmar eight points adrift of league leaders AIK with three matches to play.
Häcken 2, Djurgården 1 GÖTEBORG – BK Häcken essentially ended Djurgården’s run in the Allsvenskan with a 2-1 win at Rambergsvallen Stadium. Vinicius Lopes Soulto and John Chibuike scored second-half goals to lead Häcken to the win. The loss left DIF in last place in the standings with just 20 points. Häcken moved into fifth place in the standings.
Brommapojkarna 3, Örebro 0 BROMMA – Two goals in a one-minute span in the second half spurred Brommapojkarna to a 3-0 win over Örebro. Miko Albornoz and Olaf Guterstam scored 54 seconds apart at the start of the second half to break open a 1-0 match. Mauricio Albornoz, younger brother of Miko, scored the opening goal of the match just two minutes into the game. The goals were the first for the Brazilian duo who made their Allsvenskan debut in the match.
Örgryte 3, Helsingborg 0 GÖTEBORG – Alvaro Santos gave home fans reason for celebration when he scored a hat trick to lead Örgryte to a 3-0 win over Helsingborg. The Brazilian star, who left OIS for nearly eight years to play in Germany and Holland, scored once in the first half and twice in the second The victory lifted Örgryte into the relegation playoff spot.
Halmstad 1, Hammarby 0 HALMSTAD – Tim Sparv put another nail in Hammarby’s Allsvenskan coffin when he scored in the 78th minute to lead Halmstad to a 1-0 win at Örjans vall. Hammarby dropped into second-to-last place with the loss and with Djurgården faces relegation.
Tobias Hysén celebrates after IFK Göteborg defeated Malmö 1-0 Oct. 19 at Swedbank Arena. Bildbyrån Arena