Season review: Sweden

912664_biglandscape.jpgby Sujay Dutt from Stockholm
Back in March, twelve of the 16 Allsvenskan coaches predicted that IF Elfsborg would lift the trophy in November. However, it was AIK Solna who showed the most consistency, taking their first league title since 1998 after a race to the wire with IFK Göteborg. The cities of Stockholm and Gothenburg also saw drama at the opposite end of the table, with Örgryte IS and Hammarby IF relegated while Djurgårdens IF only held on to top-flight status after a 116th-minute goal in the promotion/relegation play-off against Assyriska FF.

Champions: AIK Solna
By September, the 2009 Allsvenskan had turned into a two-horse race, involving AIK and IFK, with the two teams matching each other blow for blow until they met in Gothenburg on the final day of the league season. IFK were on course for the title at half-time after taking the lead, but AIK fought back in the second period to win the match and the league. Fortunately so, in the case of AIK winger Martin Kayongo-Mutumba who had “AIK 2009 champions” tattooed on his chest two days before the match.

Cup final: AIK Solna 2-0 IFK Göteborg
The two strongest sides of 2009 also contested the cup final, this time at AIK’s RÃ¥sunda Stadium home. Second-half goals from Iván Óbolo and Antônio Flávio sealed the perfect season for AIK, who had never before won the double. “We may not always play sexy football,” said AIK coach Mikael Stahre after the cup final, “but it is sexy enough to win matches.”

Player of the Year: Tobias Hysén (IFK Göteborg)
Hysén was transformed into an out-and-out striker this season, and what a transformation it proved to be. The former attacking midfielder had struggled for form in 2008 in his first season back in Sweden after leaving Sunderland AFC, but this time around Hysén’s goals were frequently as stunning as they were vital to his team’s title bid. Son of former Swedish international Glenn, he was duly named the Allsvenskan’s best player by his peers.

One to watch: Viktor Noring (Trelleborgs FF)
A complete unknown before the start of Allsvenskan, the 18-year-old goalkeeper played 29 of Trelleborg’s 30 league matches in his debut season. Noring kept eight clean sheets and looks like a long-term candidate to take over from present Sweden No1 Andreas Isaksson. Like Noring, Isaksson started his career at Trelleborg.

Surprise package: BK Häcken
The club from Hisingen in suburban Gothenburg came fifth, only two points off a European place for 2010/11, and did so playing attractive, attacking football under coach Peter Gerhardsson – no small achievement given that the club has no major stars and a modest fanbase.

Leading scorers: Tobias Hysén, IFK Göteborg and Wanderson, GAIS Göteborg (18)

Number: 14
The number of defeats inflicted on Hammarby in the final 17 games of the season as they nosedived from mid-table to rock-bottom.

“He’s a great player, and great players step up when they have to.”
Djurgården captain Markus Johannesson praises former Swedish international Mattias Jonsson after his extra-time header gave his side a 3-0 second-leg win against Assyriska in the promotion/relegation play-off. Assyriska won the first leg 2-0.