Assyriska 2-0 Djurgardens: On the cusp of greatness

36408863891.jpgWell, to me greatness is just getting promoted. Considering we were in the 3rd tier of Swedish football in 2007, and were in an absolutely shambolic situation 2 months ago, last night’s/morning’s/yesterday’s victory was damn near perfection. Assyriska utterly dominated one of Sweden’s biggest clubs. A side which gave Juventus a decent run for their money a few years ago. Our passing and movement (well, what I was able to see occasionally in between refreshing my stream) was superb and had DIF looking confused and simply inferior. They barely even created a chance (save for a heart-palpitating moment that can be seen at the end of this video).

untitled21.jpgThe majority of the post-match reactions (from all sides) suggest a common theme – Assyriska is ready for the Allsvenskan after this mighty performance – both in terms of the actual aggregate score, and the fact that we showed that style, swagger and verve which made Assyriska synonymous with entertaining football (and kind of allowed us to beat these very same opponents 4-0 in the Swedish cup semi finals in 2003). I recall several occasions where either one of our centre backs Bergman or Bengtsson (no Conateh thank you) would receive the ball about midway through our half, and 3 precise on-the-ground passes later Marklund is running at DIF’s cowering defenders. No long balls, no party. That’s the Assyriska way.

Team issues:
No injuries and no suspensions meant we lined up with Conny’s familiar 4-4-2 set up.

Lorentzon, Bergman, Bengtsson (Conateh 71′), Samuelsson
Furuseth, Ostlundh, Toompuu, Batan (Nafver 16′)
Eddie, Marklund (Llumnica 68′)

Unfortunately Stefan Batan could not personally inflict revenge/punishment upon his parent club as he sustained an injury (*update: he broke a bone in his leg and will undergo surgery*) after only 10 minutes and had to eventually be replaced by Nafver, who performed excellently.

Djurgardens were missing four players (whom I have very little interest in naming) through injury. They unsuccessfully lined up with a 4-3-3/4-5-1. Like I said to someone sometime somewhere, Djurgardens must really dislike playing us.

1-0 Dennis Ostlundh 38′
2-0 Goran Marklund 48′

Pre-match issues:
Take your pick. I could dedicate a doctoral thesis on the comments in the lead up to this match. Batan spoke about revenge (or maybe I just interpreted it that way), Llumnica spoke about having no fear and perennial does-nothing-but-is-in-the-squad-and-gets-paid Martin Aslund said “There is too little experience in the club and too much internal conflict”. Well, you’re looking pretty silly now aren’t you Martin?

There was also the revelation that DIF have had a scout watching Assyriska, Sundsvall and the self-haters for an entire month in preparation for this playoff. Bosse Andersson had the following to say prior to the match: “Assyriska, I have seen the most times, three matches, so these I have the best track of. In this way, it is fortunate that there are those we may face, while it is clearly the best football team of the three. It is definitely a good team that we can look up to and have full respect for”. Andersson’s contribution to the DIF cause proved to be insignificant, but he was at least able to make one useful observation prior to the match, stating Göran Marklund as “is a scorer with great qualities”. His advice obviously wasn’t heeded.

3447786819cai6g8fr.jpgThe match:
Ok, so it didn’t quite break the attendance record as predicted (7,131 souls braved the freezing conditions) but the intense and nervous atmosphere kept the mercury above zero. Since, as usual, the game streamed piss-poorly thanks to Australia’s pathetic broadband capabilities in comparison with Europe..actually let’s just leave it at that. The video, my ramblings, and this minute-by-minute report on the game should provide any interested parties with a comprehensive view of the events of the match.

From what I saw, Goran Marklund was at his imperious best, terrorising the Djurgardens defense, Martin Lorentzon dominated the right side of defense as he always does, and Berglund was the usual impenetrable wall of doom. The stats paint a consistent picture with my biased analysis – 13 shots on goal compared to DIF’s 3. The only negatives to emerge are injuries to Stefan Batan and Philip Bergman, with the former definitely set to miss the return match.

untitled31.jpgPost-match reactions:
DIF forward Sebastian Rajalakso summed up the night: “It felt good when we got here, but now I am hugely embarrassed. We made the fans disappointed.” Meanwhile, Goran Marklund teased DIF, asserting “It was not more difficult than in the Superettan” and “I always make goals against Djurgarden” referring to his former AIK days. However he stepped down from his (deserved) lofty position on the pedestal, “had someone said before that we would beat Djurgarden 2-0 in a qualifier [it would] have been perceived as a joke.”

The Swedish Mourinho – Conny Karlsson – was delighted (yeah, obviously) – describing the performance as ‘fantastic’ and was especially pleased with the clean sheet.

Miscelanous jovial post-match comments:

“We have a good starting point.” – Petter Furuseth

“I think Djurgarden behaved as expected, nervous and uncertain and it benefited us.” – Oscar Berglund

“Will be new conditions, we play on natural grass. It will be exciting and it’s fun to go into the match with a 2-0-lead. I suspect that Pierre is away on Sunday, Stefan also [not so jovial].“ – coach Conny.

untitled41.jpgDIF coach Andree Jeglertz was nothing short of disappointed as he attempted to shed light on this ignominious defeat and the match to come: “We have put ourselves in a very tricky situation.” He described his team as ‘nervous’ and the overall performance ‘abysmal’. Neither him, the players nor their fans were expecting this after three straight wins in the Allsvenskan which had pulled them off the foot of the table and into this playoff. Jeglertz singled out the speed at which Assyriska played: “We were ready for it to go fast but it went much faster than we could handle.” Consistent with this, DIF striker Mikael Dahlberg also expressed his surprise at the speed at which Assyriska attacked, suggesting the artificial grass at the Sodertalje Arena was a significant factor.

In trying to explain the defeat, Jeglertz used the tried and tested ‘we were tired’ gag, but correctly alluded to his team failing to close down the space and press Assyriska: “We had talked about that we would be aggressive in our defensive play but we were too far from the opponents all the time.” On the return leg in Stockholm, : “We must attack, but we must do it with understanding. It is a very tough but not impossible situation.”