Malmö went into the game as reigning champion and confident league leaders (10 points ahead) with a flat 4-4-2 formation against their everlasting archrivals and were willingly to keep the all three points this time after the 1:1 draw on matchday 1. In possession the 4-4-2 turned into a 3-5-2 though where right-back Anton Tinnerholm went up far the field and Erdal Rakip moved further into the centre of the pitch.
The guest from Göteborg defended in a flat 4-4-2 as well and completely blindsided the hosts when they scored the 0:1 with their first attack inside three minutes with a header by club legend Tobias Hysén. A long ball was sent towards target player Mikael Boman who sneaked between the centre-backs and took Lasse Nielsen completely out of position. On top of that Oscar Lewicki let the goalscorer run away in the centre so Franz Brorsson could not defend Boman on the wing.
MFF tried to gain control of the game after this early shock. Therefore Andreas Christiansen shifted between centre-back Nielsen and right-back Tinnerholm, who was still up far the wing. Malmö could pass the ball there without any pressure since IFK mostly attacked them at the halfway line after the surprising lead. Just sometimes they started a rather uncoordinated counter pressing executed only by the two strikers upfront.
Obviously the hosts had the plan to pass into the spaces behind the wing-backs of their opponents. Their they tried to find the quick Alexander Jeremejeff who had the necessary speed and timing for these runs. Their other striker Markus Rosenberg didn’t quite manage to keep the long balls he recieved from Brorsson or Behrang Safari.
Only eleven minutes were played when Malmö had to change plans since Christiansen hurt his harmstring and had to be substituted by the much more forward playing Kingsley Sarfo. So in fact their formation switched to a 4-1-3-2. This caused some trouble since both Sarfo and Rakip are naturally not playing as a classic number 10 but are rather moving in the spaces between the lines and often they were just standing on each others feet. Yet they managed to outnumber their opponents on the right wing in combinations with Lewicki and Tinnerholm from time to time. A plus was definitely the higher speed Sarfo offered and his will to play vertical passes on the ground, even though most of them missed precision in the first half.
After the early lead the visitors played pretty pragmatic. Stable in the defense thanks two their two tight chains and with long balls towards Boman after gaining possession. Many balls were won by centre-back Christopher Da Graca who looked rock solid. An interesting aspect was the positioning when the excellent IFK keeper Pontus Dahlberg brought the ball back into the game. IFK shifted most of their players to the left. Two players in the front were up against five opponents since Lewicki move between the defenders in order to use his immense jumping ability. He and Brorsson won most of the aerial duels. Anyway Göteborg was obviously hoping to win the second ball, therefore they had their four midfielders in line plus left-back Adikugbe occasionally. As soon as they got the ball they tried to bring it to the other side of the pitch where Emil Salomonsson and Mikkel Diskerud were waiting to show some one-twos and overlapping runs.
As poor as IFK were looking in those aerial duels were they extremely dangerous after corner kicks. Hysén rocketed them into the box which made the MFF defense look pretty bad every single time and gave Boman a triple chance to double the lead. And they were just as good when it came to defending Malmö’s corners taken by Sarfo. Shots from outside the box have not been seen a lot that match but the few ones were causing a lot of trouble. Dahlberg had to give everything he has to clear Rosenberg’s knuckleball while Salomonsson hit the crossbar on the other end of the pitch.
The biggest chance to equalize resulted from a simple but genius pass by Lewicki. Once again he easily escaped the uncoordinated pressing of Göteborg which the visitors used in the last 15 minutes of the first half to take away some of Malmö’s growing pressure. The problem was that the team didn’t move in a compact formation so there were plenty of gaps and spaces between strikers and midfield for Malmö to use. Such a gap was used by Lewicki to give himself the space and the time behind the first pressing line he needed to find his teammate Jeremejeff with a vertical pass between the defenders. Jeremejeff played the perfect ball in the middle but Jo Inge Berget, who was rather poor in the first half, was denied once more by the extraordinary Pontus Dahlberg. Nevertheless Malmö could intensify the pressure especially on the right which brought a lot of defensive work for Göteborg, even for Boman and Sören Rieks who both had to clear the ball near their own corner flag a few times.
After the away supporters were done with their pyro show a spectacular second half began. The start though was rather slow. Combinations and sharp passes were barely seen which could have been cause by the too far distances between Malmö’s players in midfield. IFK had way less possession and only tried to press in order to keep MFF away from the goal. There was no real build up play like they tried to establish in the first half. Not with Sebastian Eriksson and surely not with Sarko. The norwegian midfielder failed to impress despite a few ball winning situations. And getting booked after two minutes of the game didn’t help him to be 100% present in direct duels.
The match really kick-started after 63 minutes when Da Graca used is arm too much in an aerial duel and went into the referees book as well. This was the starting points of all the turbulences that lasted until the 98th minute. Only two minutes later Malmö equalized which was now deserved since they were the more active and therefore slightly better team. Again the rather uncoordinated pressing from Blåvitt played a big role. Hysén was already attacking his opponent when Boman started a run towards the now in possession Malmö defender. Completely unnecessary since no teammate was insight to secure the space he left wide open with his run. Lewicki got the ball and gave it to Jeremejeff who dropped deep and got away from his defender. From there he was able to play the deadly ball between wing-back and center-back towards Berget who just had to finish off – cheekily through the legs of Dahlberg.
Another minute passed by until the next hard knock for the visitors. The just booked and obviously frustrated Da Graca went into a flying tackle around the halfway line. A moment of complete madness if you reconsider he has been booked just three minutes earlier. Deserved red card, nevertheless avoidable. Not only because of the spot and the kind of his tackling but also because Sarko let a not dangerous slip through his legs which made it super dangerous.
With the one man deficit on the field IFK changed into a 4-4-1 und brought August Erlingmark into the the back four, Sarko had to leave the field for him. After this change Eriksson could go back to the midfield next to Diskerud who shifted into the center. Hysén was now playing on the right wing. IFK tried to keep a compact formation, let the wings open and attacked at the halfway line. Malmö on the other hand tried to completely change momentum and pushed as many players forward as possible making Tinnerholm their new wing attacker on the right side. Yet the attacks looked a bit too static with six players standing in one line. What looked uncreative could as well have been their tactical plan. After a diagonal ball towards the wing there were already lots of players in the box who could have converted the crosses – if they hadn’t been that poor.
Nevertheless these crosses caused some trouble in the IFK defence which struggled to find the right positioning and marking. At least there is no other explanation why Rieks came too late against Tinnerholm, resulting in a rather soft penalty for Malmö. You could say it was poetic justic that Rosenberg chipped the penalty directly into the arms of Dahlberg. Fitting the dramaturgy of this match it had to Rosenberg anyway who brought his colours in front after a corner kick variation right from the training ground. Brorsson got his head on the ball and sent it to the far post where the MFF captain was already waiting. Again Rieks failed to mark his man.
What looked like the deathblow for IFK was in fact their reanimation. Elias Mar Omarsson was substitued for Mikael Boman as well as Carlos Strandberg came in for Malmö. Out went goalscorer Rosenberg. Just three minutes after going behind Diskerud won another free kick for his team. And you really have to applaud IFK how they kept their cool at this point of the game – one man less on the pitch and one goal behind. Instead of just hammering the ball towards the goal and pray they surprised everyone with a clever set up. This time Rieks stole away from his marker and was found with a pass by Hysén just outside the box. Their he created his by far best action of the day by sending a decent ball across the box and onto the head of his skipper Sebastian Eriksson who set the game drawn once again. A goal that took Malmö completely off guard.
In the last regular minutes of the match plus the added eight minutes stoppage time it was a raw defensive battle where Göteborg defended in a 5-3-1 (with Rieks as left-back) or even a 6-2-1 against the raging forwarding hosts. Still they focussed on crosses into the box, only the substitution of Matthias Svanberg brought more of the aspects speed and dribbling into their repertoire. Without any effect though. At the end IFK managed to keep the result with a lot of passion and commitment and therefore were much happier to celebrate an not expected points after 98 minutes.