Traditionally IFK Göteborg and Malmö FF together with the three Stockholm clubs Hammarby, Djurgården and AIK, are fighting for the trophies in the Swedish top flight, all of them still among the best, but at present, Elfsborg IF from Borås, are top of the league.
A 45 minute drive east from Gothenburg will take you there and you will find their grand home arena, previously known as Ryavallen, close to the city centre. A total capacity of 16,200 makes a good atmosphere on home games.
Their head coach, Jimmy Thelin, has been in charge since 2018. The 45 year old with a past at Jönköping Södra, really knows this game and have build a team of great solidity. They are currently 3 points in front of Malmö FF, seeing Häcken from Göteborg in 3rd.
Elfsborg IF last won “Allsvenskan” in 2012, they also won the league in 2006, 1961, 1940, 1939 and 1936. They were runners-up in 2020 and last season ended 6th.
In their last three league games they have defeated IFK Göteborg (2-1) away and AIK (3-0) at home, but had to see a dissappointing 2-2 draw at home to relegation fighters Degerfors. But 7 points in their last three are good stats, and enough to stay top.
Eidur Gudjohnsen is a player we all know well from his playing days at top clubs such as PSV Eindhoven, Chelsea, Barcelona. Monaco and Brugge among those. His son Sveinn Aron is an important part of the Elfsborg IF set up. He joined from Italian club Spezia in 2021. The son of Eidur is 25 years of age and have 20 caps and 2 goals to his name for Iceland. Since his arrival he has scored 14 goals in 62 league games.
Three other major contributers are midfield dynamo Michael Baidoo (24), winger Jeppe Okkels (24) and ,recent Swedish international debutant, forward Alexander Bernhardsson (25). The three are picked up from Sandnes Ulf (MB), Silkeborg (JO) and Örgryte (AB). They are all players who have taken huge steps under the leadership of Jimmy Thelin. When you also have great experience in the back four, and can field players such as Niklas Hult (33), Sebastian Holmèn (31) and Johan Larsson (31), you have the package to go all the way. The three defenders are all Swedish full internationals.
They also have a great young promising goalkeeper in Iceland international Håkon Valdimarsson (22). He joined from Grotta in 2021 and so far played 41 league games. Not to forget the legendary striker Per Frick (31) who has reached 224 league games in which he has scored 52 goals. He has been with the club since 2009 and part of the league winning set up in 2012. He is a Swedish international, being capped twice, having socred once, making his two caps back in 2017.
Jimmy Thelin looks to know his squad logistics as the group looks to have a blend of perfection, having the old and wise, the young and promising as well as a group of good established players in the correct age. A key to this is to spot talent and build a good foundation, as similarities to Norwegian top flight leaders Bodo Glimt is fast to recognize.
Elfsborg IF have a grand history and long traditions in Swedish football, having players such as Anders Svensson, Teddy Lucic, Tobias Linderoth, Ove Grahn, Leif Målberg and Thomas Ahlstrom among their greats. Going further back to the 30’s and 40’s, not to forget Karl Erik Grahn and Sven Jonasson.