DAVID SMITH - Saturday, July 2, 2011
Mikkel Diskerud and Stabaek need a win at Brann to keep within reach of the Tippeligan top spots while Jonathan Borrajo and Ham-Kam will try to solidify their Adeccoligaen lead against Kongsvinger IL.
Brann Bergen - Stabaek IF
Stabaek are mired in their worst slump so far of the season, having gone four straight games without a win, with just a pair of draws to show for their efforts.
Fortunately the rest of the upper half of the standings has been similarly unspectacular over the same period, leaving Stabaek still just three points out of the European places.
They will be visiting one of the teams they are chasing on Sunday, as Brann are currently in third place on 23 points, and their league's worst defense could be in for a rough afternoon as their opponents have exploded for seven over their last two games.
Sunday will mark the last game at Stabaek for midfielder Henning Hauger, who has been with the team since his youth however is set to join Hannover 96 of the German Bundesliga in the following week.
Neither team is reporting any absences to their squads.
Molde FK - Aalesunds FK
Josh Gatt will hope to maintain his place in Molde's starting lineup on Sunday as they face a tough test to their league-leading credentials against fourth-place Aalesunds FK.
Sean Cunningham will almost certainly be included on Molde's bench, however has not yet been used in league action in league play this season.
A midweek win put Molde three points ahead of the three teams just below them in the standings, however with two of the three having games in hand, they need to keep the charge going or they could be in a position to lose their advantage without ever taking the field.
They shook off last weekend's loss at Odd to take all three points at Valerenga in the midweek, giving Ole Gunnar Solskjær's men an impressive four wins in their previous five league outings.
Aalesund also have momentum working in their favor amidst a busy schedule, boasting three straight wins split between Tippeligaen, Norwegian Cup and Europa League play.
Both teams should have full squads for the game.
Kongsvinger IL - Ham-Kam
Jonathan Borrajo and Ham-Kam will try to add another win to their long streak on Sunday when they pay a visit to high-scoring Kongsvinger IL.
A run of seven consecutive wins has brought Borrajo and his compatriots from the league cellar to a first-place tie with Ranheim, and with only the narrowest of goal differential separating the two, a win is an absolute must for Ham-Kam.
Their strong defensive play during the streak - over which they have only allowed four goals - has been the key, and it will surely be tested against Kongsvinger, who are tied for second in the Adeccoligaen scoring charts with 24 through their first 13 games.
Neither team is reporting any injuries.
Mjøndalen IF - Bryne FK
Kyle Helton will hope to see time on Sunday as Mjøndalen host seventh-place Bryne.
Helton had a rather short outing in the team's game last weekend, subbing out at halftime as the team unsuccessfully pushed for the win at Bodø/Glimt.
While still several spaces above the Adeccoligaen's relegation places, their safety net is nevertheless just two points, so they must be careful to avoid any further slips down the standings.
Mjøndalen are without American defender Rhett Bernstein for the season with an ACL injury along with Daniel Reinoso and Anders Larsen who are both out with injuries.
Bryne are not reporting any absences to their available squad.
Sandnes Ulf - Hønefoss BK
Steve Clark will be in goal for Hønefoss on Sunday as they try to continue putting pressure on the top of the standings.
Kenneth Di Vita Jensen has been in and out of the team's starting lineup, but should see the field at some point during the game.
Hønefoss have done well to put themselves back into contention for a return to the top flight with a strong run in the last few weeks, and are now sitting just two points behind Ranheim and Ham-Kam at the top of the standings.
Their 2-0 shut-out win over Alta last weekend was vital, as it showed they had shaken off their recent disappointment in the Norwegian Cup, and are ready to get back to business to fight for promotion.
Should they managed to beat Ulf, they will gain a huge edge over one of their main competitors just below the leaders, with Sunday's opponents currently trailing them by a single point.
Sunday's game will be a real test for Clark and Hønefoss, as Ulf have run off five straight wins, and also have eyes on gaining entry into the Tippeligaen for next season.
Both Hønefoss and Ulf should have full squads available for the game.
Joseph Bendik will be on Sogndal's bench on Sunday when they visit IK Start.
Colin Burns will be Sandefjord's backup keeper when the team welcomes Løv-Ham on Sunday.