The defending champions have a big goalkeeping problem. Number one custodian Andre Hansen is out for eight weeks because of a knee injury. Their original number two for the season Alexander Hansen hasn’t been seen yet this term because of a concussion. All this means the veteran Pavel Londak will be starting in between the sticks here. He’s a massive downgrade on Hansen who is one of the best keepers in the Tippeligaen. Rosenborg are also missing midfielder Anders Konradsen because of suspension. Apart from this they are at full strength. Due to Molde’s decline it now only looks like Odd Ballklubb are capable of catching RBK this season. In fact, the Trondheimers have to be careful because Odd are now only three points behind them. Last week, RBK dropped points by only drawing 0-0 at Bodo. They created enough chances but came up against a keeper in great form. Rosenborg still have a 100% home record, winning 7/7 here at the Lerkendal Stadion, only conceding three goals in the process.
The visitors are at full strength ahead of this contest, minus winger Jonas Lindberg who isn’t included in the squad and presumably injured. Sarpsborg started the season badly but have since won 6 of their last 9 games and improved a lot. This will be a much tougher test though and they’ll do well to avoid defeat at the Lerkendal. I would imagine Sarpsborg will just try and contain RBK for as long as they can with some negative tactics. The most comparable fixture they’ve played in recent times was a 0-4 loss at Stromsgodset. As soon as they fell behind in that match the floodgates opened up later on as they lost self control. I personally find Sarpsborg one of the toughest teams to predict in this league and are capable of anything on the day.
Since Sarpsborg came into the Tippeligaen about five years ago Rosenborg have won 7 of the 8 meetings, including all of them here at the Lerkendal Stadion. It’s not the sort of fixture in which RBK are usually troubled. The last meeting between the two was the NM Cup final at the end of last season which they took 2-0. Usually, I would see Rosenborg winning this match to nil, but the loss of goalkeeper Andre Hansen is a big blow. I feel he’s an underrated custodian and worth more to Rosenborg than some people might think. The backline could be affected by this and maybe Sarpsborg can take advantage of Londak’s nervousness, even though he is experienced. The last five RBK home games have all ended over and maybe the same could happen again here. But it’s worth remembering the hosts will have nearly all of the ball and chances will probably only come at one end. Sarpsborg will be relying on set pieces to cause problems, something they are usually strong at in all fairness. I’m pretty sure Rosenborg will win, the question is by how many, and if they can keep a clean sheet. I think 3-0 or 3-1 is the most likely outcome and I’ll predict Sarpsborg manage to get on the scoresheet.
I’ve been thinking long and hard about this match and in the end I’ve decided to be aggressive and take two bets. Firstly, Rosenborg are priced around the 1.75 mark on a -1.25 handicap. I think this is a safe line to take and at worst they should be winning the match outright by one goal which would be a half loss. They have an excellent record at the Lerkendal Stadion and Sarpsborg don’t seem like the sort of team who will stop them. Rosenborg will probably end up comfortable winners so I’m happy to grab this sort of handicap. I will also take over 3 goals. I do have this nagging feeling that the visitors will score on one of their rare attacks forward, possibly due to poor defending or goalkeeping from a set piece. If Sarpsborg do score then surely an over 3 line would be at worst a push. The danger scoreline taking this extra bet is 2-0, or 1-0 to a lesser extent. But even if Rosenborg do win to nil then they are more than capable of covering this over line themselves. I was either going to no bet this match or go all in. I have chosen the latter option but I am fucked if Sarpsborg manage to keep things really tight. Overall! I’m confident Rosenborg can deliver a convincing victory though.
Recommended bets: Rosenborg -1.25 @ 1.75 (minimum odds acceptable 1.65)
Recommended bet: Over 3 goals @ 1.93 (minimum odds acceptable 1.80)