For ten seasons Oscar Friberg has grown his Ostersund side into one of the top 25 clubs in European football. Now with three Swedish Allsvenskan wins under his belt, Friberg is chasing a fourth domestic title. In Europe, Ostersund are consistently reaching European knockout stages and surely it is only a matter of time before the Swedish side reach a European final?
In this post, we review Friberg’s tenth season with Ostersund. How did they fare in the Europa League knockout stage? Could they win a third consecutive Swedish title? If you missed the previous season summary, you can go back and read it here:
Unbeaten In 50 | Ostersund #10.1
Europa League Knockouts
If you read until the end of the previous season summary, you will have seen that we were incredibly unlucky not to have progressed through our Champions League group. Drawn alongside Inter Milan, Benfica and FC Nantes, I would have predicted a third-place finish but hoped for 2nd place ahead of Benfica.
We won 12 points in the group yet came 3rd as both Inter and Benfica also finished with 12 points. This put us into the Europa League First Knockout Round to be played at the beginning of the 2026 season.
We breezed past Dutch side AZ 8-2 on aggregate before losing out to Arsenal 2-1. I think it is a great sign of our progress that we are challenging and even beating the likes of PSG, Inter Milan and Benfica over the past few years.
After last seasons disappointing exit in the Swedish Cup group stage, we needed to bounce back here. And that we did. We scored a brilliant 15 goals in the group stage before beating Helsingborg and Hammarby to reach the final.
We faced off against Malmo where we put six past their keeper, winning 6-2. New signing Ze Gomes became an instant hero by bagging a brace and Rhian Brewster also got his name on the scoresheet. Attacking trio Ze Gomez, Brewster and Dario Fernandez could be an incredible strikeforce for us moving forward (more on those three later).
After seeing home our second consecutive title last season, Ostersund were chasing three in a row and they started off their title defence in terrific form.
An unbeaten run that stretched until October meant that they secured the title with ease.
This unbeaten run has seen Ostersund write their name in history, breaking the 75-year-record, set by Malmo, for the most consecutive games unbeaten in the league. The previous record stood at 49 games and Ostersund travelled to Norrkoping knowing that avoiding defeat would break the record.
That they did, drawing 1-1 and going within a point a winning the league. Sadly it was only two games later that Malmo earned a retribution of sorts by ending the unbeaten streak, meaning that Ostersund set a new record of 51 games unbeaten in the Swedish Allsvenskan.
We topped the table by an impressive 12 points but lost our way a little after the title was won – four poor performances followed our crowning as champions.
As a result of winning the Allsvenskan in 2025, Ostersund were awarded a CL group stage spot and were even placed in the first pot amongst the other league winners from across Europe. We were given a tough group as we would meet Manchester United, Napoli and Shakhtar Donetsk. 3rd place is a must but 2nd or 1st is where we aspire to finish.
We began with perhaps the most difficult game of the group stage, away to Man Utd. We scored the opener through Swedish centre-back Mohammed Mohamed but we seldom threatened our opponents from that moment forward. United scored four goals to condemn us to an opening day defeat.
If we had any chance of finishing 2nd, Napoli at home would be a must-win game. Two stoppage-time goals, one in the first half and one in the second, helped Ostersund beat Italian side Napoli 2-1. Rhian Brewster secured all three points in the 91st minute with a penalty – three crucial points!
4th seeds Shakhtar were the side we would need to get at least four points from for any realistic chance of progressing through the group stage. And it looked as though a 92nd-minute equaliser from Dario Fernandez had secured us a credible away draw, but a 94th-minute goal from Shakhtar secured their victory and our defeat.
Now a must-win game, Ostersund hosted Ukrainian side Shakhtar in the return leg. This game played out very differently to the previous – we smashed 6 goals past Shakhtar which included a hat-trick from ex-Liverpool youngster Brewster.
Alongside our victory against PSG, a 2-0 home win against Manchester United can be classed as one of our greatest results of this save. Brewster scored the opener in the 81st minute before Ze Gomes netted the safety goal. This put us in 2nd place ahead of Shakhtar in 3rd and Napoli in 4th. Heading into our final game of the group stage with 9 points, we knew that a draw would secure our passage through to the knockout stage.
A tough away tie in Italy resulted in our qualification through to the knockout stages of the Champions League!! It was our star man Rhian Brewster who deservedly scored the goal to draw the game and earn that one important point.
We came second in the group behind Manchester United.
As we finished second we were not seeded for the last 16 draw. It is fair to say that all of the 1st place teams from the group stage would be superior opponents, but we have beaten PSG, Tottenham and Manchester United so far in this save, as well as getting a credible draw against Atletico Madrid, so we have proven that we can compete against the top sides in Europe.
We have been drawn to play Manchester City, last seasons’ Champions League winners and runners-up from the year before. It is going to be a tough ask to progress any further than the next round!
- Cacapa (GK) – In
Brazilian goalkeeper Cacapa was signed for a club record £12M as a replacement for Lee Jung-Hoon. He has had an impressive first season with us, keeping 24 clean sheets in his 47 appearances.
- Ze Gomes (ST) – In
Ze Gomes was available to sign for just £2.3M and I could not miss that opportunity. The Portuguese striker has proven himself an impressive signing and has rotated well with Dario Fernandez.
- Darjan Djuranovic (DC) – Out
Though Darjan Djuranovic was a star centre-back for us, PSG came knocking for him and they ended up offering us £32M for him. I accepted in a heartbeat. He’s good, but Rui Santos was better (and the board sold him for 10x less than what we got for Djuranovic).
The above screenshot shows the formation we have been using with Ostersund for the past 5/6 seasons now. If you read my previous post on the Ostersund youth academy, you’ll know that the yellow marks by some of our players indicate that they have progressed through our youth academy. It’s good to see four graduates in the best XI for this season.
Oscar Friberg’s Managerial Stats
It seems that every season Oscar Friberg’s managerial stats continue to improve! The Swedish boss is closing in on 500 games in charge of Ostersund, he should pass that milestone during his 12th season with the club. What’s impressed me is his goals conceded stat – this now stands at fewer than 1 goal per game.
In the next Ostersund post we will be reviewing Friberg’s entire career to date. The 10 season review will look at how Ostersund have progressed under Friberg’s leadership, some of our most memorable players and the development of the Swedish league in terms of their place in Europe.
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Thank you very much for reading another instalment of our Football Manager 2018 story here on VivaLaVidaFM. Three consecutive league titles for Ostersund! And that incredible performance against United in the CL. I can’t wait to share the progress this club has made in the next post of this series!
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