The Swedish season kicks off this weekend with 2010 champions Malmö FF looking to become only the second side in 14 years to defend the Allsvenskan crown.
While IFK Göteborg claimed the title six times between 1990 and 1996, missing out to AIK Solna in 1992, the championship has been tough to defend more recently. Only Djurgårdens IF have secured two in a row since – taking the honour in 2002 and 2003 – while the last six editions have been won by as many different clubs.
Malmö are largely unchanged from the team that triumphed in 2010, with promising youngsters Guillermo Molins, Jiloan Hamad and Jimmy Durmaz – all recently given Sweden debuts – still on board along with key foreign players Wilton Figueiredo, Ricardinho (both Brazil), Yago Fernandez (Portugal) and Ulrich Vinzents (Denmark).
Former Swedish international midfielder Daniel Andersson, who will be captain again, told UEFA.com: "The fact our squad is intact works in our favour.
Continuity is important. However, with foreign clubs eyeing several of the players, there could be changes during the summer transfer window. Some of them will have six months left on their contracts then, making them prize targets, but I hope nobody leaves over the summer."
That Malmö coach Roland Nilsson has managed to keep his squad together contrasts with the fortunes of other recent champions. Following their 2009 coronation, AIK lost five regular starters, while Kalmar FF's 2008 success concluded with internationals Rasmus and Viktor Elm leaving for the Netherlands along with top scorer Patrik Ingelsten.
That haemorrhage of talent may explain why Swedish champions have struggled with title defences, or indeed to compete successfully in the UEFA Champions League, yet while Andersson sees Helsingborgs IF, IF Elfsborg and Örebro SK as rivals, he hopes Malmö buck the trend. "We hope we can compete on two fronts," he said. "To succeed in the Champions League qualifiers you have to play well in Allsvenskan too. That's where you build harmony and confidence."
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