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Scouting The Opposition: Valerenga looking to learn from Manchester United match to inspire them this season?

Manchester United travel to Oslo, Norway for Sunday’s match against Valerenga. It will be United’s sixth pre-season match of the summer with one more remaining before the UEFA Super Cup against Real Madrid on the 8th August. United have played Valerenga before during the pre-season tour of 2012, the start of the final season under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson. The result in that match was 0-0, hopefully, that will not be the scoreline again this summer at the Ullevaal Stadion on Sunday. The match will kick off at 18:00 BST and will be broadcast live on MUTV in the United Kingdom.

Valerenga’s season is around the half way point after it started on the 3rd April 2017 with 16 matches played with the side sitting seventh in the Tippeligaen, three points about their finishing place last season. Rosenborg currently sits at the top of the league with twelve points more than Valerenga in seventh place. Ronny Deila’s side will need to put in a lot of work to finish in a higher place this season with only five points between them in seventh in 14th place, which carries a relegation play off at the end of the season to avoid the drop into the lower leagues. Valerenga will be looking to ensure they continue the form from their last six matches in which they have not lost, drawing four and winning just twice.

Ronny Deila was the former manager of Celtic before former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers took the position. Delia seems to have his work cut out for him in his native Norway. Former Manchester United striker and reserve league coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still manages Molde in the Tippeligaen, his side beating Valerenga 4-0 in the fourth game of the season, played on the 17th April 2017. Valerenga has a game in hand over five of the six teams above them at this stage of the season after their clash with Haugesund, who sit fifth in the league with two points more than Valerenga, was cancelled on the 12th July. Valerenga have not played since the 17th July, a 1-1 draw against Kristiansund. Valerenga will face Elverum in the fourth round of the Norwegian Cup.

The Norwegian side will not play another Tippeligaen match for a week after the pre-season friendly with Manchester United this Sunday. It is fair to suggest Deila’s side will be looking to challenge United, stopping them from scoring five years ago in their last pre-season friendly, ending 0-0 despite United having many chances to score. United will have the majority of their squad with Luke Shaw, Ashley Young, and Marcos Rojo remaining on the sidelines through injury, which should see them back in September, October and December respectively. Goals are something Valerenga seem to be struggling with this season, scoring just 22 (one of them an own goal) in 17 Tippeligaen matches this season with the league leaders scoring 33 goals so far in this campaign.

Midfielder Ghayas Zahid is the club top scorer in the league, scoring five goals, plus a further three in the Norwegian Cup. Forward Bård Finne has four goals in the league, plus another in the cup. Defender Jonatan Tollås has three goals in the league. Forward Mohammed Abdellaoue and midfielder Herman Stengel both have two league goals with forward Muhamed Keita, midfielders Magnus Grødem and Christian Grindheim and defenders Robert Lundström and Enar Jääger all scoring one goal a piece. Valerenga had also capitalised form an own goal during the league season.

Looking at the goals scored during the first half of the season, comparing that to Manchester United’s squad, even with the youth being given a chance, I don’t think Valerenga will have the tools required to beat Jose Mourinho’s side, but never say never in football. Stranger things have happened. One thing is for sure, the Norwegian Red Devils will be happy to see their team play in their native country once again this summer.

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