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Malmö claims record-setting title

Malmö FF stands alone as the team with the most football titles in Sweden.


It wasn’t always pretty and there were more than a few bumps along the way, but Malmö FF accomplished its goal: The Sky Blues celebrated their record-setting 19th Allsvenskan championship November 6 with a 3-0 win over Hammarby at Swedbank Arena.
“We deserved to win,” said first-year manager Allan Kuhn. “We have scored the most goals. We conceded the fewest. We were the best away team and the best home team. Malmö FF has never scored more goals than we did this season.”
Malmö entered the 2016 season tied with IFK Göteborg for the most Allsvenskan titles. Each had won the league 18 times. The 2016 title put Malmö at the top of the all-time wins list and is the third time in four years the Sky Blues have lifted the Lennart Johansson trophy.
Malmö actually clinched its 19th Swedish championship on October 26 when it beat Helsingborg 2-0. Then second-place Norrköping lost the same day to Djurgården while third-place AIK drew with Elfsborg. The combined results handed Malmö an unassailable six-point lead with two matches remaining. Even two losses would have kept Malmö on top thanks to its goal difference.
Malmö won the league with 66 points while AIK finished second with 60. Malmö also led the league in scoring with 60 goals in its 30 matches while surrendering a league best 26. It was sweet revenge of sorts after many had written them off as injuries and suspensions robbed the squad of many of its top players in September.
“I think a lot of teams underestimated us during the last eight-nine weeks,” said Kuhn. “We found a way to win all the matches but it was difficult. You can’t just snap your finger and make it work.”
Malmö weathered the rash of injuries as several younger players developed into frontline stars. Alexander Jeremejeff, the 23-year-old striker who came from BK Hacken, scored five goals in 15 games and had three assists. Mattias Svanberg, 17, a product of the Malmö academy, scored twice in six matches and set the league on edge with his displays of skill and speed.
“Svanberg can find the spaces between the wings and the wing of the opposition,” Kuhn said. “What if you had removed a Markus Rosenberg from another team, as the last six weeks. Or Anders Christiansen. Or Vidar Örn (Kjartansson), who was sold. We have been given too little credit that we fixed it anyway. Yes, we have a good squad, and that is why we won in the end.”
Malmö also benefitted from having experienced players on the bench. Jo Inge Berget and Tobias Sana, neither of whom were happy in substitutes’ roles, took advantage of every opportunity to return to the starting lineup. Berger scored the opening goal in the season finale against Hammarby while Rosenberg scored twice.
“I do the best with my team to win games,” he said. “I would love to play beautiful football, I want to build from the back so we that we can play in depth. I always hear that we are uninspiring. People may say "individual performance" is how we won gold, but look at Liverpool's success ... obviously, they are very skilled. There are different ways to do it ... it is the situation that decides.”
While the winners of the Lennart Johansson trophy was a foregone conclusion over the final weeks, the battles for spots in Europe and, at the bottom of the table, for the relegation playoff spot, came down to the final match.
AIK and Norrkoping each won its final match as Norrköping fell short in its bid to retain its title. Both will play in the UEFA Europa League next season along with Kalmar, which beat Malmö to claim the 2016 Swedish Cup.
Helsingborg and Gefle, meanwhile, engaged in a battle to the end to see which team would avoid automatic relegation. Gefle had to win and needed Helsingborg to lose or draw to climb out of the relegation zone. Gefle did its part, beating Östersunds 4-2 in a seesaw battle. The Gävle side, however, fell short as Helsingborg claimed a 2-0 lead over Jönköpings Södra. After the match, Helsingborg manager Henrik Larsson vowed his club would remain in the top flight. Helsingborg faces Halmstad, which finished third in the Superettan, in a home-and-home series starting November 17.
Falkenberg finished last in the league, winning just two matches. The Superettan-bound side mailed in its final match, dropping a 7-0 decision to BK Häcken.
Malmö will return in April to the UEFA Champions League, where it reached the group stage in each of its last two forays into the premier club competition in Europe.


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