Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men suffered two crippling defeats prior to the summer break. The first was a 0-2 loss at Odd and the second was a gut wrenching 1-3 reverse away at bitter rivals Rosenborg. As a result, they now sit a massive eight points adrift of the defending champions and three behind Odd. I look at the Molde squad on paper and I feel it should be challenging Rosenborg a bit closer, maybe with a strong second half to the campaign MFK can be more consistent. There’s no doubt its been away form that’s been a huge achilles heel. Molde have won 5 out of 6 here at the Aker Stadion with a 16:5 goals for/against. For this match, key centre back Vegard Forren & midfielder Fredrik Aursnes are both suspended. Their best player, Mo Elyounoussi will probably leave the club during the summer transfer window, but for now he remains a Molde player. Eidur Gudjohnsen is on international duty with Iceland.
The Stavanger outfit were in fairly good form prior to the winter break, winning 4 of their last 6 games. Viking are fifth in the table, only one point behind Molde and victory here would move them above the 2014 champions. The visitors also have the best away record in the whole league, winning 4 of their 6 on the road this season. However, when they played Rosenborg at the Lerkendal, they were given a strong lesson during a 0-4 hammering. This will be a similar difficult test against one of the bigger sides. Viking have been dealt a blow by the news that promising youngster Suleiman Abdullahi has transferred to the Bundesliga in Germany. They’ll struggle to replicate his creativity until they find an able replacement. Midfielder Abdi Ibrahim is suspended for this clash. He has only missed two games so far this season, but Viking lost them both and his presence in the middle can’t be underestimated.
I expect Viking to try and play to their strengths here. The visitors have a pretty solid backline which has only conceded 12 goals so far. Four of those were scored by Rosenborg so it just highlights how strong they can be defensively. I fully expect them to make themselves difficult to break down here and it’s possible it might take Molde a while to score. We have seen MFK in this same position in two recent home games when they needed late goals to beat Brann & Aalesund. It’s the sort of fixture which could start out quite slow but gradually heat up. For me, it just has the feel of a tight Molde win, something like 1-0 or 2-0. Considering this is the first competitive match for either side in over a month then we could see a cagey and tactical affair initially. A lot of Molde matches do open up into some classic end to end type encounters, but only if the opposition allow it. It takes two to tango and I don’t think Viking will want to dance unless forced. Ultimately, I think Molde will win thanks to a late goal following a strong period of pressure.
Molde are a short priced 1.65 favourite with the bookies. I would say that’s pretty fair when you consider their strong home record. Viking do have statistically the best road stats in the whole league, but a trip to the Aker Stadion will be much harder for them compared to most trips. Molde are definitely the classier side and if they play well, should win. But there are absences on both sides, nobody has played competitively for a month and there are players in each camp who have either recently left the club or might be leaving soon. There’s enough question marks for me to conclude that no betting this game is the best option. The main asian handicap line on Molde is -0.75, so in order to cash in fully, you need the hosts to win by two clear goals. I’m not wholeheartedly convinced that will be the case. It’s the same with the goal line which is priced at the 2.75 mark. This match feels more under-ish to me because of the way Viking play, but it’d always be really risky taking unders when Molde are involved! I don’t see any real value and I don’t fancy Molde strongly enough to commit to them.
Recommended bet: None