MALMÖ. So, how much drama was left to squeeze out of the 2021 Allsvenskan? No matter how much, apparently. No one at all, really.
The best team was the best, the champions are champions, the stadium is on fire and AC lifts the trophy.
Malmö won again.
When the doors began to open and the summer began to end, he won Malmö FF this year’s most important match at home at the Stadium. 2-0 against Ludogorets, free street to the Champions League and the treasure chest. It was only allowed to let in five thousand supporters here then, but when the team captain Anders Christiansen came home he felt he wanted to write a message on twitter:
“Shut up now, mood. Dare not think about if there had been a full house ”.
A hundred days away it was full house, for the first time in eleven years most champions would have to clap together for a season and roll home a gold in front of their people, at home.
20,000 sky blue in place to celebrate the title at home for the first time in eleven years.
And now shut up a mood.
21 stars above the north stand, Cavalli, Jeppsson and Madsen in the 22nd in one of the year’s finest grandstand choreographies. It was a nice opening on a day that could only end in two ways: with gold or a historic crash.
Everything happened, just not here
Two hours later it had turned in every way possible, it had swayed in Solna, tilted in Örebro, exploded in Östersund – and there was complete silence in Malmö. Magnus Haglund’s HBK has done so much right this year, and did it again, with his straight 4-4-2, his smart system football and his compact blocks. Samuel Kroon had had second chances, and during a quarter in the middle of the first half they actually had a really good grip on MFF.
Everything happened, just not here.
AIK turned around after a shock and decided with a final scene from the fairytale world: the ambassador Henok Goitom nodded in his 100th AIK goal in his last match. Elfsborg swung in and out of their fourth place, Degerfors was in qualifying until Johan Bertilsson christened himself a savior in Jämtland snow in the closing seconds.
Not that it was not a match, it really was, but it followed the lines drawn for an entire season. Malmö FF dominated with their superior competence, they took advantage of their superior bench (when Anders Christiansen came in with a quarter left it was as if he came in, hung up his coat and shouted to 20,000: “it’s calm, dad is at home! ”), and they were never close to letting in the goal that could have opened the gates of hell.
HBK should not be in this situation, but they are because they could not do the goals they should, and they did not do it here either. The audience tore up the final minutes – it is unworthy, disrespectful to the Allsvenskan, to behave like that – but it was still a wait for everything to fall into place.
It was enough to be the best
Malmö has the safest goalkeeper in the series, they have team father Lasse Nielsen in the back, they started this match with senators Rieks and Berget on each side, could send in Christiansen when needed. They have something that no one else has, they are something that no one else is.
They have lost against Mjällby, lost points to Varberg, Östersund and Halmstad, they have been played by Djurgården.
Malmö FF was not always good, but whatever: it was enough to be the best.
Yes. As if it matters.
I have never understood the cliché that emerges as surely as a Sebastian Larsson arm when the referee blows: The one where people feel compelled to state that those who won were “worthy champions”.
They have always been so desperately hard to point to the opposite, when they won not be worth it.
Steven Bradbury became Olympic champion in skating because everyone else fell. Yes, but it was well part of the rules. Stand on your feet, then we can talk later.
Malmö FF has fallen this year, they have limped and injured themselves and not always impressed, but when the finish line came they were the only team that still stood up.
Dignified, finished, for the 22nd time Swedish champion.
Just as good as they needed
They have been able to rest against Lasse Nielsen’s father shoulders when it stormed, they got back little Lewicki when they needed it, they have received enough – but not all – of the new acquisitions Colak, Birmancevic, Peña, Abubakari and Moisander. They had braced up the goalkeeper side to guard against Johan Dahlin’s troubles.
In terms of play, they have won the series by pushing their way through the matches, having a passing game in motion and a press pace that they are alone in Swedish football. Those who challenged the closest have had shortcomings that MFF lacked. Djurgården’s striker did not score, Malmö did. AIK could not win away, Malmö won most of all. Elfsborg lacked the routine and the toughness, Malmö certainly did not.
In the end, Ola Toivonen stood at the sideline with wet eyes, after his Degerfors hung on and his MFF became champions. They barely noticed when the big nerve ghost knocked, and now, for the first time in seven years, they have managed to win the gold one season when they doubled with group games in Europe. It’s an impressive achievement one year when they did not impress.
Now they stand here with a fairly newly built squad, with Anel Ahmedhodzic on the way away, with question marks about Jon Dahl Tomasson’s future, but above all with the trophy.
They won again, Malmö won again. December smoke blows over the stadium, Bengt Madsen gets a peek from his sky.
His team may not always have been as good as they should be. But they were just as good as they needed to be.
Sportbladet – Allsvenskan
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Bank: Bengt Madsen gets to squint from his sky