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Tromsø IL, the opponents of FC Santos Tartu

Angelo PalmeriComment

Tromsø IL (which stands for Idrettslag, sport and was born in 1920) is the most important club of the Norwegian city of Tromsø and the most northern top football club in the world (the other club is Tromsdalen UIL, born later in 1938).
TIL was relegated from Tippeligaen (Norwary top tier) last season when they ended up 15th out of 16 clubs, same level as Hoenefoss (29 points).
In the current season in first division (named Adeccoligaen) they are second behind Sandefjord.

TIL has never won the Norwegian title and managed to clinch the Norwegian cup twice.
They got into Europa League thanks to the UEFA Fair Play ranking as Norway topped it and
Tromsø IL has been the best club in these terms during 2013 season.

Sweden was granted the first spot in the Fair Play ranking last season and, Narva Trans opponents in 2013-14 campaign, Gefle IF, were awarded a spot.
Estonia managed only once to send a club via the ranking (1998-99 UEFA Cup, Viljandi).

In the past they accounted for European clashes with Chelsea (Cup Winners’ Cup 1997-98), Galatasaray (2005-06 UEFA Cup) Roma and Crvena Cvezda in the same season at the group stage, and Tottenham Hotspurs in last season’s Europa League group stage.


Steinar Nilsen in AC Milan strip at the end of 90's

Steinar Nilsen in AC Milan strip at the end of 90's

Mostly Norwegian players compose the squad. The goalkeeper, Benny Lekström, is from Sweden (he moved to Norway in 2010 from Brommapojkarna). In defence, another foreigner is Mika Koppinen, Finn at the club since 2008 and the captain of the XI. Another foreigner, and regular presence in the XI, he is  the striker, Czech Zdenek Ondraśek (at the club since 2010) who is the squad top scorer with 6 goals. The last foreigner, with few appearances, is Polish Jaroslaw Fojut (just 5 appearances and 134 minutes in total)

The 4-man defence features Antonsen on the left flank and Norbye on the right with 23-year-old Wangberg pairing with Koppinen in central defence.

In the 4-1-4-1 setup, Thomas Bendiksen is the midfielder lying deep in front of the defence. The 24-year-old defending midfielder counts 3 appearances in Scottish Premier League with Rangers Glasgow in 2011-12. In the 4-3-3 he still lies deep and covers the back of either the two Johansen’s (Remi and Jonas) or of Moldskred pairing with Remi Johansen. Morten Moldskred is the veteran of the team together with Koppinen (34 years the former, 35 the latter) and has been employed mostly in the first part of the season.
Tromsø coach, Steinar Nielsen (an old acquaintance of Italian football having spent one season at AC Milan and three at SSC Napoli in Serie A) usually switches between Jonas Johansen and Morten Moldskred. The latter has been also used in his natural role of striker. His age and experience (he played 9 games for Norway debuting late at 29 years old) qualify him as a good jolly in the hands of the 42-year-old coach for the striking and midfield line (he has scored also 4 goals).

The Czech Ondraśek should be up front regardless the formation.
The former Czech U-21 is the author of the only goal scored by
Tromsø in last season Europa League’s group stage (the 1-1 home with Sheriff Tiraspol, the only point collected by the Norwegians pooled with Tottenham Hotspurs and Anzhi Makachkala among others in Group K).
Notwithstanding he has collected most of the appearances up front and goals, Nilsen has started to try and find new solutions by employing both Moldskred and the young Espejord (18-years-old) in the central forward role. The last solution bringing Jonas Johansen up front brought a brace from the 29-year-old defender and a 3-1 win away at Ullesanker Kisa IL, a drop-zone side (15th of June).

The impression is that Nilsen prefers to vary the scoring options with all the XI contributing into the build-up: 7 goals from the defence (2 players) 11 from the midfield (3) 10 from the forward line (2) compose the total season tally (28) of the
Tromsø side in Adeccoligaen, the best goal scoring force of the second tier.

The flankers compose the rest of the XI: Thomas Drage (left) and Magnus Andersen (right, with Moldskred also occupying these roles when needed).


The last 4-1-4-1 fielded by Nilsen in Adeccoligaen without Czech striker Ondraśek (click to enlage -

Steinar Nilsen opts most frequently for a 4-3-3 with one deep-lying midfielder and two high up behind the 3-men striking line (in what would look more like a 4-1-2-3). However, he has shown flexibility in fielding is side also in a 4-1-4-1 during the current season (5 times). The impression is that, against a weaker side like Santos Tartu he might confidently opt for a pure 4-1-2-3 allowing his flankers to put constant pressures on Santos full-backs, Roops and Flyak. At the same time, midfield might suffer if Santos will cover with 4-5-1 when not in possession in order to create numerical superiority in the middle of the park and ‘critical mass’ to close spaces.

Estonian international and former Chicago Fire midfielder, Joel Lindper, at Tromso IL

Estonian international and former Chicago Fire midfielder, Joel Lindper, at Tromso IL

·        Tromsø IL was homeclub for Estonian international Joel Lindpere in the years 2007-2010. He weared Tromsø jersey 75 times in Tippeligaen and scored 5 goals.

·        In UEFA series, Tromsø has qualified to group stages three times. In 1995 Intertoto Cup,  2005-06 UEFA Cup and in 2013-14 season they played in UEFA Europa League.

·        Tromsø biggest victory in UEFA series is home victory aganist icelandic club Havnar Boltfelag. After 90 minutes scoreboard showed 10-0 victory.

·        Tromsø has never won Tippeligaen, but they have been runners-up two times and became third three times.

·        Tromsø is right now playing in Norwegian first division, where also Tromsø second club - Tromsdalen UIL – competes.

Steinar Nilsen today (

Steinar Nilsen today (

·        Eleven years ago Tromsø wanted to host 2014 Winter Olympic games assigned later to Sochi (Russia).

·        In Midwinter, you cannot see the sun there, because it lies under the horizon for two months. Between late April and mid-August instead, there is no darkness because of its geographical position.