Combined Allsvenskan and Eliteserien Team of the Season 2019
It’s been a quite remarkable season in Scandinavia, with drama all the way to the end. In Allsvenskan, a three-way title battle went all the way to the last day of the season as Djurgarden came from 2-0 down on the final day to draw 2-2 and secure the Swedish league title. Meanwhile, in Eliteserien, an almost unprecedented six-way relegation battle went right to the end, with only goal difference separating teams as almost half the league fought for survival on an insane final round.
And to wrap up the season with style, here is our pick of the 11 best players across Eliteserien and Allsvenskan in 2019.
Goalkeeper – Isak Pettersson – IFK Norrkoping
Voted goalkeeper of the season at the Allsvenskan 2019 season awards ceremony, it’s been a fantastic year for Isak Pettersson. The IFK Norrkoping shot-stopper has begun 2019 with a call-up to the Swedish national team and ends it with another call up the Sweden national training camp taking place in January 2020.
In the meantime, the 22-year-old showed why he is arguably the best goalkeeper in Allsvenskan. With a 79% save percentage facing an average of 3.92 shots per 90 minutes, Pettersson is regularly tested in the Peking goal but stands tall on the majority of occasions, saving his team in key games with some magnificent saves. No keeper kept more clean sheets in the division this season and his save percentage ranks 3rd in the league despite facing more shots than any other top-ranking team in the league and nearly double that of the two keepers with the best save percentage.
With one year left on his contract, there is sure to be a big interest in Isak Pettersson’s services from clubs in the coming months.
Defender – Aslak Witry – Djurgarden
With four assists and 4.19 crosses per 90 minutes, Djurgarden’s roaming right-back Aslak Witry is the Trent Alexander-Arnold of Swedish football. Largely overlooked in Norway, where the 23-year-old spent four years at Ranheim without much fanfare, the Norwegian’s move to Stockholm was yet another smart pickup from eventual title winners Djurgarden and a shining example of how they cleverly used the transfer market to find underrated gems to help build a championship-winning side.
Witry averaged 0.89 key passes per 90 minutes in Allsvenskan, ranking 5th in the entire league, and offered not just a solid defensive shield as a full-back but also a vital impact pushing forward from wide areas. He provided a constant supply of dangerous crosses to the forward line and also weighed in with four goals. A very modern full-back with the consistency to do it game after game in what was a magical season for Djurgarden fans.
Defender – Marcus Danielson – Djurgarden
Pound-for-pound, arguably the best player in the league this season, full-stop. Centre-back Marcus Danielson won a shower of awards at the Allsvenskan end of season bash including Defender of the Year and Most Valuable Player of the Year, and few could argue it wasn’t deserved as he captained his side to the title.
Danielson brought a vital mix of calm and combativeness to Djurgarden’s backline – strong and aggressive when he needed to be but also a calming influence on those around him in pressure situations. He came up clutch in key games, scoring powerful headed winners at Ostersunds in a tight 2-1 win and against Kalmar in a 1-0 win, without which DIF would not have won the title, and won a highly impressive 75.1% of his defensive duels throughout the season.
Winning 68% of aerial duels and 67% of tackles competed for, the 30-year-old has grown in stature in recent seasons and is now a key player and leader for the Allsvenskan champions.
Defender – Fredrik André Bjørkan – Bodø/Glimt
Probably the stand out defender in the Eliteserien this season. Bodø/Glimt surprised everyone with their brilliant second-place finish and Bjørkan was one of the major factors towards this success. He has been excellent both from a defensive and offensive point of view. A willingness to engage the opposition is one of his major strengths.
With 254 defensive duels which ranked 4th highest in the league, he was constantly harassing other players and making life difficult. At the other end of the field, Bjørkan scored three goals and provided four assists. His 67.8% dribbling success rate ranked sixth-best in the entire league. From both a physical and technical perspective Bjørkan has massively progressed this season and become a very accomplished left-back. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Bodø/Glimt failed to hold onto him this winter and other clubs came sniffing.
Midfielder – Alhassan Yusuf – IFK Goteborg
The 19-year-old Nigerian was given the very Swedish nickname ‘Hasse’ by his teammates, perhaps a mark of his popularity after the youngster registered a quite brilliant debut season in Allsvenskan. Alhassan Yusuf was signed by IFK Goteborg after impressing at the Gothia Cup in 2017 for Tiki Taka Development, a Cameroonian development squad. IFK grabbed the opportunity to sign the combative midfielder on the spot, and their faith was rewarded with a string of fine performances that saw Yusuf named Allsvenskan Young Player of the Season 2019.
Likened to Ngolo Kante for his diminutive style, physique and similar lung-bursting, reliable and combative approach to midfield play, Yusuf’s 91% pass completion rate demonstrates his ability to neatly keep the play ticking in that midfield area. His pass completion rate of 78% for forward passes also shows he is not a sideways pass merchant.
The Nigerian’s fine debut campaign has already attracted the interest of bigger clubs around Europe, including Wolverhampton Wanderers who appear most keen at present. It seems IFK Goteborg have another gem on their hands, and yet another battle to hold onto one of their most promising players.
Midfielder – Håkon Evjen – Bodø/Glimt
He was named the 2019 Eliteserien Player of the Season which is a stunning feat for just a 19-year-old. The right-winger, who often plays as an inside forward or as a creative midfielder, has been red hot right from the start of the campaign. He scored 13 goals and significantly overachieved his xG figure of 5.83.
Evjen is highly skilled but has strong all-round aspects to his game. His presence is felt in all areas of the field and nobody in the entire league engaged in more defensive duels than him (290). He won 62.1% of them which is highly impressive for someone in his position. The young Norway starlet now moves to Dutch side AZ Alkmaar for a fee of over £2m and the next chapter in his career.
Midfielder – Muamer Tankovic – Hammarby
This was a breakout season for Muamer Tankovic, the one in which he finally showed just what an exciting and effective player he can be, on a more consistent basis.
Hammarby broke the league record for goals scored in a 30-game Allsvenskan season this year. Put simply, they battered teams. 4-0s, 5-1s, 6-1s, 6-2s – you name it, they racked it up, in a campaign that defied all belief at times. When they were on song it was an absolute joy to watch, and former Fulham man Tankovic was a central part of that.
With 14 goals and 7 assists, no player contributed to more goals this season than Tankovic, the 24-year-old putting in some sublime performances when suitably inspired. Playing off that left flank, his stats make for very impressive reading: a goal every other game, 2.97 shots per 90, 0.85 key passes per 90, an 82% pass accuracy. A move to Genoa in Serie A has been discussed.
Midfielder – Magnus Wolff Eikrem – Molde FK
Håkon Evjen may have won the player of the year award in the Eliteserien, but Magnus Wolff Eikrem came a very close second. From April to July especially, the attacking midfield playmaker tore apart the league and helped pave the way for what would ultimately prove to be a comfortable title win for Molde.
In the opinion of many, the ex-Malmo and Seattle Sounders man is the best player in the Eliteserien. Sometimes he appears way too good for this level and his level of skill is on a different planet compared to the majority of the division.
His passing statistics in 2019 have been an absolute masterclass. Wolff Eikrem ranked #1 for key passes, smart passes, through passes and deep completions. It’s no surprise he provided 9 assists this season, and when you add that to his 11 goals scored, you have an extremely accomplished all-round attacker.
Midfielder – Zlatko Tripic – Viking
There was an expectation that Viking would have a solid enough season following their promotion back to the Eliteserien. Few would have foreseen a 5th placed finish in addition to a Norwegian Cup triumph though. Central to their success has been left winger and captain Zlatko Tripic.
In the league, he notched up 5 goals and 6 assists although that doesn’t tell the full story. He has been an inspirational leader and at times it feels like he’s helped propel and drag this Viking team to their success this season. Statistically, Tripic ranked third best for both through passes and smart passes this season. He’s been the stand out player on the left-hand side in 2019 and really delivered for his team on the pitch.
Forward – Torgeir Børven – Odd BK
Eliteserien top scorer for 2019 with 21 goals. This was a big surprise for a striker who, in a decade of playing, had never even previously reached double figures for a campaign! He struck just five times in 2018 and the plan in the off-season was to re-train him as a deeper playmaker. However, a long term injury to Andreas Helmersen meant that Børven was given another chance to lead the line, and boy did he deliver.
Probably the most impressive aspect of his season was consistency. Børven didn’t ever go more than two games without scoring in the Eliteserien and he was a constant conveyor belt of goals. He overachieved his xG of 14.25. Børven can be classed as a complete striker with a strong all-round game. A third of his goals came via headers but the most noticeable improvement to his game came in the technical department.
Forward – Mohamed Buya Turay – Djurgarden
The history maker. The record books will show that it was Mohamed Buya Turay’s 15th and final goal of the 2019 season that secured a dramatic title win for Djurgarden, their first in 14 years. The Sierra Leone international marksman was the league’s top scorer this season and so takes his place in our Just Football Team of the Season.
A constant menace in attack, Buya Turay can dribble, he can shoot and he can score. One scout we spoke to describes him as ‘the only real standout player in Allsvenskan this season’, perhaps harsh on one or two others, but a measure of just how much Buya Turay stood out in attack.
The eccentric forward hit key goals in several games, perhaps none bigger than his goal on the counter-attack in a 1-0 win at then-reigning champions Malmo FF. 15 goals is a prolific return, and leads to a deserved inclusion in the team of the season as a key part of Djurgarden’s championship win.
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