Allsvenskan teams rebounded from a poor start as the Swedish Cup group stage entered its second round.
The revamped tournament, which started off with 64 teams, began play March 3, and it appeared only half of the Allsvenskan sides took the opening day seriously. AIK, BK Häcken and Kalmar all lost while Malmö and Helsingborg could only manage ties against Division 1 opponents. In Round 2, only AIK and Åtvidaberg suffered losses among the Allsvenskan sides.
The 32 teams in the Group Stage play in eight groups of four teams. The teams face each other once. The eight group winners advance to the quarterfinals, which are a home-and-home, two-leg affair and go off April 3 and 10. The seminfinals, set for May 3, are single-elimination, as is the Cup final, which is set for May 26 at the new Friends National Arena in Solna.

The Svenska Fotbollsförbundet, after prodding from the teams in the Allsvenskan and Superettan, agreed to revamp the tournament to make it not only more competitive but to give the higher-echelon teams a chance to rest after the completion of the regular season. Prior to this year, the Cup final was also held after the last week of the Allsvenskan, extending what is often a 50- or 60-game year for the two teams in the final. The new format has all the lower division teams facing one another in a single-elimination match. The second round, also single-elimination, features the winners plus teams from the Superettan and the Allsvenskan. The 32 winners of those matches advance to the group stage.
The early start to group play means most Allsvenskan teams will field experimental sides as they work to get their regular players fit for the start of the regular season. It also gives players who might be on the bubble of making the final cut a chance to shine.

The groups

In Group 1, GAIS holds the upper hand after defeating IK Sirius 2-0 March 10 at Loten IP. Andreas Augustsson and Björn Andersson scored for GAIS. The Göteborg side opened group play March 3 with a 2-1 win over Ljungskile and leads the group with six points. Elfsborg rebounded from a 2-1 loss March 3 at Sirius by whipping Ljungskile 5-1 March 10 at Borås Arena. Johan Larsson, Lars Nilsson, Daniel Mobaeck, Marcus Rohden and Joakim Jörgensson all scored for Elfsborg. The match March 17 between GAIS and Elfsborg could decide the group winner.
In Group 2, Superettan side Falkenberg sits atop the standings with six points after beating Örebro 1-0 at Behrn Arena. Anton Wade scored the lone goal. BK Häcken got its first win, beating IFK Varnamo 3-0 behind a pair of goals from Mostapha El Kabir and one from Nasiru Mohammed. Falkenberg opened group play with a 2-1 win over Häcken while Örebro beat Varnamo 2-0. Örebro and Falkenberg meet March 17.
In Group 3, Östers and Malmö sit atop the standings with four points after each team claimed win March 10. Östers defeated Sundsvall 2-0 on goals from Denis Velic and Freddy Söderberg. Malmö beat Division 1 side Frej 2-0 on goals from Jiloan Hamad and Simon Kroon. Malmö and Östers are not only level on points but on goals after they played to 1-1 draw on March 3.
In Group 4, Örgryte took command after beating AIK 4-1 March 10 at Valhalla 1. Oskar Wallén and Emil Karlsson each had two goals. The loss was the second for AIK, which dropped a 2-1 decision to Halmstad in its opener. AIK, a gold medal favorite in the Allsvenskan, is all but out of the Cup. Syrianska and Halmstad are level with three points and identical 3-3 goals for-goals against.
In Group 5, the match March 16 between Mjällby and IFK Norrköping will decide which advances as both have four points after wins March 10. Norrköping beat Ängleholms 4-0 behind two goals from Christoffer Nyman and single strikes from Martin Smedberg and David Wiklander. Mjällby defeated Landskrona 3-0 on a pair of goals from Markus Ekenberg and one from Marcus Pode.
In Group 6, Gefle holds the top spot after a 5-1 win Assyriska. Jakob Orlov scored a hat trick while Mikael Dahlberg had a brace for Gefle, which has six points. Gefle beat Varbergs BoIS 3-2 on March 3. Helsingborg is in second place with four points after a 5-0 win over Varberg. Christoffer Andersson had a pair of goals while Alejandro Bedoya, Loret Sadiku and Mattias Lindström all had one apiece. Helsingborg meets Gelfe Match 17 for the right to advance.
In Group 7, IFK Göteborg moved to six points on two wins after defeating Nyköpings 4-1 March 10 at Rosvalla IP. Tobias Hysén, who appears to be in midseason form, had a perfect hat trick to lead Göteborg. Joel Allansson also tallied for the Blåvitt. Hysén also scored both goals in Göteborg’s 2-0 win over Brage. Kalmar and Nyköping each have three points after Kalmar defeated Brage 3-0. Sebastian Andersson had a pair of goals for Kalmar while newcomer Romario Pereira Sipiao had one. Kalmar opened group play with a loss to Nyköping. Göteborg and Kalmar play March 17. Göteborg only needs a draw to advance.
In Group 8, Djurgården moved to six points on two victories after knocking off Jönköpings Södra 3-1 at Grimsta IP. Erton Fejzullahu, DIF’s 10-million crown signing in the offseason, continued to earn his transfer fee as he scored once to lead Djurgården to the win. Andreas Johansson and Luis Solignac also tallied. Fejzullahu scored all three goals in DIF’s March 3 win over Umeå FC. Åtvidaberg holds second place with three points despite losing 2-1 to Umeå. AFF opened its play with a 3-1 win over Jönköpings Södra. Umeå also has three points but trails in goal difference.


by Chipp Reid