Malmö, Helsingborg, Elfsborg, AIK and IFK Göteborg are the top contenders for the gold in the 2013 Allsvenskan.

2012 Finish: Fourth
Key Gains: Alhassan Kamara, Henok Goitom
Key Losses: Mohamed Bangura
Outlook: A pre-season favorite among some experts and newspapers, AIK has everything it needs to compete for the gold medal. Head coach Andreas Alm, now in his third year at the helm, has provided the stability to a team than went through five managers in four years prior to Alm’s arrival. Henok Goitom should pair well with midfielder Celso Borges. Goalkeeper Ivan Turina back stops a defense that last season allowed the fewest goals in the league.


2012 Finish: Second in Superettan
Key Gains: Gabriel Özkan
Key Losses: Ludvig Augustinsson
Outlook: Brommapojkarna is on the perennial Allsvenskan merry-go-round, winning promotion and demotion with each passing season. This season should be no different. BP added veteran midfielder Gabriel Özkan to the side that finished second in the Superettan but lost sensational defender Ludwig Augustinsson, who signed with IFK Goteborg. Bromma has a solid team but will have problems competing with the upper echelon sides.

2012 Finish: Ninth
Key Gains: Kenneth Höie, Erton Fezullahu, Luis Solgnac, Andreas Johansson
Key Losses: Ricardo Santos, Keeba Cessay, Daniel Sjolund, James Keene
Outlook: Head coach Magnus Pehrsson made finding a true No. 1goalkeeper a priority and he was quick to grab Norwegian net minder Kenneth Höie when Elsborg released him. The biggest addition is Erton Fejzullahu, who spent six years playing in Holland, most recently with NAC Breda. Fejzullahu made his debut with the Swedish national in January and scored seven goals in three matches in the Swedish Cup. Fejzullahu gives DIF the legitimate scoring threat it lacked last season, but a still shaky back line will likely prevent DJurgården from cracking the top four.

2012 Finish: First
Key Gains: Henning Hauger, Mohamed Bangura, Tom Söderberg
Key Losses: Oscar Hiljemark
Outlook: After winning the title last year, Elfsborg went out and made a strong team even stronger. The Borås side barely blinked after losing talented midfielder Oscar Hiljemark to a transfer as it added Norwegian international Henning Hauger to replace him. Although slightly older than Hiljemark, Hauger has invaluable international experience and should pair seamlessly with Anders Svensson. Elfsborg biggest coup was signing Mohamed Bangura on loan from Celtic, a move that strengthens an offense that scored just 48 goals last season. Elfsborg has all the tools to be the first team since Djurgården to repeat as champions.

2012 Finish: 11th place
Key Gains: None
Key Losses: None
Outlook: Gefle did little to change the team that finished 11th last season. The Gävle side was tougher road teams as it compiled a 6-4-5 record. It will have to improve on its 3-5-7 home records if it has any plane of climbing into the top half of the standing. Gefle’s best player is in goal where 39-year-old Mattias Hugosson is set to play his final season. Gefle has talent in Mikael Dahlberg, Jonas Lantto and Jakob Orlov, but not enough to really make a run at a spot in European play.

IFK Göteborg
2012 Finish: Seventh
Key Gains: Mattias Bjärsmyr, Adam Johansson, Ludwig Augustinsson
Key Losses: Sebastian Eriksson
Outlook: After assembling a team the Swedish media dubbed “Real Goteborg” because of the array of stars, the Blavitt were clearly the biggest flop of the 2012 season. Although capable of playing extraordinarily compact, clean and precise football, the 2012 Goteborg side was just as capable of playing like it had no purpose. That was last year. This off-season, general manager Håkan Mild looked to add role players – signing young defensive talent Ludwig Augustinsson while welcoming former players Mattias Bjärsmyr and Adam Johansson back in the fold. The additions give Goteborg depth and with a year’s experience of playing together, head coach Mikael Stahre could just have the championship mix.

2012 Finish: Third in Superettan; Defeated Sundsvall in playoff
Key Gains: Kristoffer Fagercrantz, Stefan Selakovic
Key Losses: Karl-Johan Johansson, Ryan Miller
Outlook: Halmstad returns to the Allsvenskan after two seasons in the Allsvenskan. The team is completely different from the side that suffered relegation, featuring mostly home-grown talent. There is nothing flashy about Halmstad and nothing to really worry the more established teams. The biggest question Halmstad must answer is how much gas does Stefan Selakovic have left in his tank. IFK Goteborg let Selakovic walk when his contract expired. If he can find his form at age 37, Halmstad should at least stay up in the Allsvenskan.

2012 Finish: Sixth
Key Gains: Alejandro Bedoya, David Accam, Peter Larsson
Key Losses: Nikola Bjurdjic,
Outlook: Helsingborg attempted to defend its 2011 by snapping up as much talent as it could on loan. It was something of a bargain-basement way to chase the gold medal and it failed. Then came the talent drain as four starters returned to the original teams. HIF decided to hang onto three of its on-loan stars in U.S. international Alejandro Bedoya, Ghanaian midfielder David Accam and former Swedish international defender Peter Larsson. HIF also made sure to hang on to May Mahlangu. HIF also brought in Roar Hansen to guide the team. If everything gels, Helsingborg could well hoist the championship cup.

BK Häcken
2012 Finish: Second
Key Gains: Moestafa el Kabir, Ruben Ayarna, Fredrik Bjork
Key Losses: Waris Majeed, Tom Soderberg
Outlook: After s surprising second-place finish last season, Häcken comes into the 2013 season looking for even more. Häcken had the top offense last season, scoring a league-high 67 goals in 30 games. Now-departed Waris Majeed played a major role in the offense, scoring 23 goals and notching nine assist for a league-leading 32 points. To replace him, Häcken picked up Moroccan international Moestafa El Kabir and Ghanaian Ruben Ayarna. The real question Häcken must answer is whether last season was a fluke. If it was, Häcken is no more than a middle-of-table team. If it wasn’t Häcken could well battle for the gold.

2012 Finish: Tenth
Key Gains: Israel Silva Lima, Zlatan Azimovic
Key Losses: Abiola Dauda
Outlook: If Kalmar manages to find a goalkeeper it could be a medal contender. Preseason injuries to Zlatan Azimovic and Erir Berisha left 21-year-old Lars Cramer in the starting role. If Cramer proves equal to the task, Kalmar has more than enough talent to improve on its disappointing tenth-place finish last year. Kalmar has the most international of teams in the Allsvenskan, boasting players from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Brazil, Serbia, Costa Rica, Albania, Nigeria, Ghana and Zimbabwe. If head coach Nanne Bergstrand can get his international roster to work as a team, Kalmar has an outside shot at the title.

Malmö FF
2012 Finish: Third
Key Gains: Magnus Eriksson, Benjamin Fadi, Emil Forsberg
Key Losses: Daniel Larsson, David Löfquist, Ulrich Vinzents, Wilton Figueriedo
Outlook: Malmö underwent one of the larger overhauls during the offseason but managed to come out just as strong if not stronger than it was last season. Money it received for the transfers of Larsson, Löfqwuist and Vinzents allowed Malmö to grab up Eriksson, who was out of favor at Gent in Belgium. It also managed to beat some larger European clubs to land Fadi, an Under-21 Ghana international many scouts regard as a soon-to-be African Player of the Year. On the downside, Malmö’s overhaul left it with an inexperienced striking corps, except for Eriksson. Just how quickly the group of 19 and 20 year olds matures will determine the Sky Blues’ fate.

2012 Finish: 12th
Key Losses: Moestafa El Kabir, Juan Robeldo
Key Gains: None
Outlook: Mjällby is one those teams that wishes it had the resources to dabble in the transfer market. MAIK has a history of finding and developing talent only to lose it to teams with deeper pockets. Mjällby tried to go the loan route, accepting El Kabir back from Cagliari, but never really found its stride. Two ugly matches would follow one good one and there it little reason why that should change this season. Without El Kabir scoring and Robeldo in the playmaker role, Mjällby has little to offer but its traditionally tough defense. MAIK will likely battle to avoid relegation all season.

IFK Norrköping
2012 Finish: Fifth
Key Gains: Rawez Lawan, Silim Luts
Key Losses: Astrit Ajdarevic
Outlook: Norrköping has a team that, on paper, can compete with any of the so-called favorites. Striker Gunnar Heidar Thorvaldsson rediscovered his scoring touch, netting 17 goals last. In midfielder Lars Gersom of Luxembourg Peking have a player most experts say could well be the best in the Allsvenskan. Team captain Mattias Floren leads a defensive unit that allowed 43 goals, something Norrkoping must improve if it plans to compete for the gold. Loaded with talent, a top-four finish and spot in Europe is well within Peking’s grasp.

2012 Finish: 13th
Key Gains: None
Key Losses: None
Syrianska at the start of the 2013 season is very much like Syrianska at the end of the 2012 season, which is good and bad. The good is Syrianska still have Jamaican international goalkeeper Dwayne Miller, striker Dinko Felic and a couple of hard-nosed players in Louay Chanko and Sharbel Touma. The bad is that’s about all Kleber Serenpaa’s side has. Syrianska barely avoided relegation last year. It likely won’t avoid it this season.

2012 Finish: Eighth
Key Gains: Mohammed Abubakari, Diego Pelicles da Silva, Martin Christensen
Key Losses: None
Outlook: Åtvidaberg is one of those teams it is easy to look past – and this season, woe to the team that does. After finishing a respectable eighth last year, ÅFF is looking to move up the table and possibly challenge for spot in Europe. In Victor Prodell Åtvidaberg have a proven striker – Prodell hit the mark 15 times last year, third best in the Allsvenskan. Åtvidaberg need to shore up a defense that allowed 48 goals and went out picked up Danish defensive midfielder Martin Christensen. Ådvitaberg should at least compete for a spot in the top four but will likely fall short.

2012 Finish: Won Superettan
Key Gains: Kenny Pavey, Juan Robeldo, Josef Elvby
Key Losses: None
Outlook: Teams moving up from the Superettan to the Allsvenskan always seem to have a leg up early on because they are largely unknowns. That is not the case with Östers, which picked Allsvenskan veterans Kenny Pavey, Juan Robeldo and Josef Elvby to bolster a young, mostly Swedish squad. In fact, Pavey and Robeldo are the only non-Swedes but both have ample experience in Swedish football. Östers should be a solid club, not entirely a contender, but fighting relegation either.

by Chipp Reid