Rosenborg is double trouble again
The reigning champs again took home both the Eliteserien trophy and Norway Cup
Jo Christian Weldingh
Rosenborg beat Start 1-0 on Nov. 11 and won the Eliteserien title with one match left to play. Rosenborg is league champion once again. For the fourth time in a row, the team from Trondheim lifted the league trophy and celebrated with their fans on Nov. 24 after a 1-1 tie with Bodø/Glimt to conclude the regular season.
On Dec. 2, they defeated Strømsgodset 4-1 for the Norwegian Cup, a tournament for all Norwegian teams on all levels, the team’s third league/cup double in four years, and 10th in its history. Amahl Pellegrino gave the team from Drammen—which had finished in 13th place and missed relegation by two points—a 1-0 lead. Mike Jensen and Pål André Helland scored giving Rosenborg a 2-1 lead at intermission. Nicklas Bendtner scored twice in the second half, both assisted by Birger Meling.
Yet for some, it was still a disappointing Norwegian soccer season. The fans and the press do not seem satisfied with how Rosenborg presented themselves this season. In a season with more lows than highs for Norway’s biggest and richest soccer club, the other teams have, once again, disappointed in challenging the Norwegian champions. Molde took the early league lead, then Brann controlled it for most of the season. Molde finished second, five points back, and Brann third, six points behind.
Rosenborg’s season was dominated by injuries, the sacking of coach Kåre Ingebrigtsen, who was replaced by Rini Coolen, the prison sentence of star striker Bendtner, and of course, the lack of success in European club soccer. On Nov. 28, visiting Celtic won 1-0, leaving Rosenborg one of four pointless teams of eight playing in the European League.
The match against 15th-place Start was a good illustration of Rosenborg’s season. The squad was better than their opponent, but without playing good soccer or impressing anyone. Samuel Adegbenro, Rosenborg’s star left-winger who was injured most of the season, scored the game-winning goal after 28 minutes of play. Rosenborg then needed a 73rd-minute goal by Yann-Erik de Lanlay to earn the tie with 11th-place Bodø/Glimt in the finale. Yet, Rosenborg’s goal differential was +27 and it allowed the fewest goals—24 in the league.
Rosenborg’s left back, and Norwegian national, Meling, seemed more relieved than happy in the press zone after the match.
“It feels good to win here today,” he said. “Just as good as it was last year. It has been a troubled season, but we have been able to concentrate on our own game, and we made it. I’m proud of the guys.”
The fact that Rosenborg wins the league title in a season where everything else but soccer has played the leading role in Trondheim, says a lot about Rosenborg’s dominant position in the sport. Helland, who has won four titles in a row with Rosenborg, says it makes him extra proud to be a Rosenborg player.
“It feels extra good,” he said. “It has sort of been us against the rest this year, and it has been draining. After practice and games, I have felt the need to get away from soccer and spend time with family and friends. It has been a rough year, but worth it, most definitely.”
Rosenborg sports director Stig Inge Bjørnebye kept it short when asked about the turbulence within his club.
“Today we focus on the fact that we’ve won the league title,” he said. “When you play two games per week, you need to keep the focus away from the problems.”
Following the cup win, Coolen refused to talk about his future.
“Please, I will not talk about it now,” said the Dutch native to VG. “I would rather talk about the match. We played one of our best matches in a while, and gave something back to our amazing fans. I was pleased that we did not panic when we fell behind and felt we had more control, not just in parts of the match as it has been before. We keep the level and the players tuned even though they have played very much recently. It’s amazing and it feels good. Everyone knew in advance how important this match was.”
Rosenborg’s 26th league title is not their most impressive, but they have proved, maybe just because of their problems, that they are the best soccer team Norway has, and things can only improve heading into 2019.
Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, and lives in Oslo. He has a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from the University of Oslo and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from BI Norwegian Business School.
This article originally appeared in the December 14, 2018, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.