JON VAN WAGENEN - Saturday, July 17, 2010
Ryan Miller and Alejandro Bedoya will be in action as Sweden's top division returns from its World Cup break while Nick Noble and perhaps Michael Thomas will try to help Ljungskile bounce back in a crowded Superettan.
IFK Göteborg - Halmstads
With no Swedish or European cups to occupy them, Halmstad has been able to load up for the return of Allsvenskan soccer.
They have even scheduled a training match with Fulham, based on their connection with former manager Roy Hodgeson.
Göteborg meanwhile has had over two weeks to rest since falling to Kalmar 3 – 4 in the Swedish cup's quarterfinal round. They look ahead to a Europa League third round matchup with AZ Alkmaar.
With the season reaching its halfway point, the teams will face each other in back-to-back matches. Halmstad's two point lead over the recent champions should provide plenty of motivation.
Although a slight improvement before the break lifted them just above the drop zone, Göteborg's start has been disappointing.
Miller, who has played in all 14 matches this season, will need to play good defense against Stefan Selakovic, who has been one of the league's best at setting up goals. The veteran is returning from a back injury.
Elfsborg – Örebro
After a disappointing exit in the Swedish Cup, Alejandro Bedoya's Örebro can focus on maintaining their Europa League spot.
Örebro also have a two point lead over Elfsborg, and the next two matches are crucial for end of season position.
Elfsborg was knocked out of the Swedish cup by Hammarby. Charlie Davies' old club is the only second division team to reach the quarterfinals.
Mjällby knocked Örebro out 3-0 after Bedoya's early half chances were fruitless.
Östers IF - Ljungskile
Nick Noble and company get a rematch after dropping their last game to Östers IF.
The loss broke a string of good performances by Ljungskile and dropped them to the middle of a pack of eight teams all within two wins of a promotion playoff spot.
Östers have climbed to within a point of safety.
Henrik Nikkilö will miss the match due to accumulation.
Michael Thomas has finally been cleared to play forLjungskile and could potentially make his debut. He saw action earlier this week in a reserve match.