Fredrik Berglund is back among the goals at IF Elfsborg and the Swedish champions believe he can fire them past Linfield FC and into the next round.
Elfsborg IF have every reason to be on a high. Champions of Sweden for the first time since 1961 and topping the 2007 table, the club are enjoying life in front of bumper crowds at the brand new Borås Stadium.
Elfsborg did suffer a rare low note with a 2-1 loss at rivals Djurgårdens IF last Saturday but that weekend reverse should serve to avoid complacency before the huge UEFA Champions League encounter at home against Northern Irish club Linfield FC on Wednesday night. The teams drew 0-0 in Belfast last week and coach Magnus Hagland is confident his men can show the class of the Allsvenskan and win through to a second qualifying round tie against Debreceni VSC of Hungary.
Haglund said: "Swedish teams haven't done well lately [in Europe] but we believe in ourselves and believe we can get a good result. A draw away wasn’t too bad." More grounds for optimism is that Fredrik Berglund will lead the attack. The 28-year-old returned last month from FC København and has made three lively appearances so far. His first goal came against Djurgården and all at Elfsborg are looking for the man who played six times in last season's UEFA Champions League group stage to push on.
"It's a true Elfsborg player that has returned and it's great for us to be able to lure him," said sports director Stefan Andreasson. Berglund is on the fringes of the Sweden team and will know good form can only help his chances. The same can be said of midfielder Anders Svensson, who is still on the international scene at the age of 31. Also with something to prove is 33-year-old forward Mathias Svensson, another back after time in England.
Haglund is well aware of the role to be played by Berglund and the two Svenssons. "We're building for the future and have a good set-up of young players, but our experienced players mean a lot to us," he said. There is certainly still a long way to go, as shown by the Djurgården defeat, and the coach is at pains to avoid a repeat against Linfield. "We played well for 80 minutes but then Djurgården got lucky," he said. "We were not focused enough."
Berglund and his new team-mates are aiming to put that right against Linfield, and the star striker has no doubts at all about who will triumph. "I'm sure we'll win 3-0," he predicted, adding that he was still in shock from the drawn first leg. "I can't believe we didn't win, but the ball just didn’t want to go in." With another game under his belt and the start of a scoring run under way, it promises to be a different story this evening.