Tippeligaen – Valerenga v Brann Preview (13/8/16)

VIF-BRANN

Valerenga preview

After a really rotten period, Valerenga have hit back with three straight wins which has eased their relegation fears. VIF have played much better and there is clearly more confidence within their squad. It helps to have a bit of luck along the way too, and even they would admit the victory at Sarpsborg last time out (2-0) was fortunate. When things are starting to go your way then the opposition do miss big chances and positive things happen at crucial times in games. VIF have shipped off defender Niklas Gunnarsson and Elias Omarsson this week, but both were just bench players and it won't affect their first choice team. It looks like the same XI will be announced again and it's good for Kjetil Rekdal that he can finally name consistent sides that don’t change much. Compared to their last three games then Brann are likely to be their hardest opponents yet. VIF will need to keep playing well and actually raise their game some more if they are to avoid defeat.

Brann preview

The Bergen outfit are up to third in the table after a 1-0 win against medal rivals Stromsgodset last week. The scoreline suggested a close match but Brann dominated proceedings in that fixture and should've won by more goals. They really are playing some great football at the moment and some would argue they are even the favourites to finish second this season. Early in the year they relied solely on a solid backline to get them results, but the offense has looked significantly more dangerous since the summer break. Last week, Brann missed two key players to suspension, centre back Demidov and DM Silvert Nilsen. Both return here, although fellow man in the middle Kristoffer Barmen is rated doubtful because of injury. He’s the only problem health wise and the squad is generally in excellent condition. Brann aren’t as strong on the road as they are at home but looked good at Odd in their most recent away game, and prior to that they drew at Stabaek.

Conclusion & betting analysis

Both teams head into the game in good form, each having won its last three consecutive games. So confidence will be high and this will be an interesting encounter. Brann have been playing well all season and are the more reliable team. There’s something inside me which says Valerenga are still fragile and one bad result could see them spiral downwards again. Two of their three victories in this winning run have been against rock bottom Start, and a Molde side who played terribly on the day. To be honest, they rode their luck a lot against Sarpsborg last weekend and on another afternoon could easily have lost. Brann have a really solid defence and I could see them frustrating the hosts, limiting their opportunities. And Brann are so good at catching sides out on the break during concentration lapses. I think this is a really tough game to predict and I don’t see a viable bet. Valerenga are on a -0.25 handicap, and whilst I would personally side with Brann +0.25, the price isn't big enough to tempt me. Over 2.5 goals is odds-against, which is very unusual for Norwegian football. Part of me would love to bet over 2.25, almost as an automatic pick. This feels like the sort of game which could contain exactly two goals though, and it’s always risky betting overs in Brann games due to their defence. I’ll predict a 1-1 draw and for both teams to keep their unbeaten runs going. Overall, this is a tricky looking fixture and best left alone in my opinion.

Prediction: 1-1
Recommended bet: None

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