Bodø/Glimt to win second consecutive league title?
JO CHRISTIAN WELDINGH
When Bodø/Glimt won their first ever league title last year, it came as a big surprise. Experts and pundits expected them to end up mid-table, but the team from Bodø in northern Norway, made up of seemingly average players, exceeded everyone’s expectations and won the league. Glimt’s domination was so sensational and unexpected that it was written about in The New York Times.
With the 2021 season now about to start, people are asking if Bodø/Glimt can continue their victory march. Most experts agree that it will end up being a fight between Bodø/Glimt, Rosenborg, and Molde.
Glimt in 2020 might have been the best Norwegian soccer team of all time. They scored 103 goals, set a new league point record and almost knocked AC Milan out of Europa League. However, their success attracted the interest of top clubs around Europe, and several key players have been sold. Jens Petter Hauge was sold mid-season, while Philip Zinckernagel, Fredrik Bjørkan, Patrick Berg, Marius Lode and Kasper Junker, key players on last season’s team, have all moved on to bigger European clubs this winter. Glimt’s weakened squad, combined with stronger opposition, might prevent them from winning a second consecutive title. Ulrik Saltnes had a strong season for anyone with 12 goals and 13 assists, but 60 goals and 35 assists came from Zinckernagel, Junker, and Hauge alone.
Coach Åge Hareide took charge of Norway’s winningest team, Rosenborg, last year and has started to rebuild the former soccer giant after last year’s fourth place, a disaster for a team whose fans expect to win the title every season. Rosenborg, based in Trondheim, has more resources than any other Norwegian club and has strengthened its squad during the winter break. It added Stefano Vecchia, who had 12 goals and five assists for Swedish team Sirius, and Ole Christian Hammerfjell Sæter, who had 11 goals for 1st Division Ranheim. Dino Islamović and Kristoffer Zachariassen each had 12 goals for Rosenborg last season. The team has had some trouble finding the right coach, having fired two coaches in two years, but Hareide has the experience to succeed with a club like Rosenborg.
Molde might be the biggest favorite to win this year’s league title. Their performances last season were too inconsistent to compete with Bodø/Glimt, but it was the only team to beat Glimt all season when they won 4-2 in October. The team has miraculously been able to hold on to their key players, despite performing well in front of a bigger European audience when they reached the round of 16 in Europa League this winter. Magnus Wolff Eikrem sets the action, as he had seven goals and 10 assists in 2020. Ohi Omoijuanfo had 12 goals after a 15-goal season in 2019, but he had knee surgery in February. Etzaz Hussain scored eight goals. With a strong leader in coach Erling Moe and a healthy economic situation, everything is in place for Molde to perform better than last year.
Eliteserien will begin May 8, two months later than initially planned. Several clubs have been denied team trainings due to coronavirus restrictions. The teams affected by these restrictions will play against each other in the first three rounds to keep a level playing field.
This article originally appeared in the May 7, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.