Four days after taking on Helsingør in Denmark, Palace head to Sweden to face Halmstads which will be a trip that plenty of Palace supporters will be keen to make. Before then, here is everything you need to know about our second pre-season opponents.
What is their history?
Halmstads BK were formed in 1904 and after working their way through the Swedish footballing leagues, they reached the top-flight for the first time in 1933. They would also have brief spells there in the 1940s and 1950s before a period of decline in the 1960s saw them sink as low as the third tier in 1965, but eight years later they were back in the Allsvenskan.
However, Roy Hodgson’s arrival as manager in 1976 brought unprecedented success as he won the league title for the first time in the club’s history in his first campaign in charge. They would compete in the European Cup the following year, and in 1979 Hodgson lifted a second Allsvenskan title before departing the following year to manage Bristol City.
More success would follow in the late 1990s as they enjoyed famous UEFA Cup victories over Parma and Newcastle United, and won two more league titles in 1997 and 2000 as well as the 1995 Swedish Cup. However, recent seasons have seen them yo-yo between the top two divisions, and they suffered relegation for the third time in six years at the end of the 2017 campaign.
How are they doing this season?
The Superettan season kicked off in April, and after their first nine games Halmstads are lying in fifth spot, but have played a game less than most of the teams above them due to their season opener against Helsingborgs being postponed.
After winning their first game against Degefors, they then lost successive matches, but have bounced back by going six games unbeaten. However, they were knocked out in the group stages of the Swedish Cup, which began before the league campaign started.
Where do they play?
Halmstads play at Orjans Vall, which was opened in 1922 and has been hosting football matches ever since. It has a capacity of 15,500 and is also home to third tier club IS Halmia.
The ground has hosted some major international matches, including during the 1958 World Cup when Northern Ireland played there twice, beating Czechoslovakia and losing to Argentina. It was also used in the 2009 UEFA Under-21 Championship, including two England games that saw James Tomkins win caps in a win against Finland and a draw against Germany.
Who’s in charge?
29-year-old Igor Krulj began his career in Halmstads’ academy, but never appeared for the first-team and instead featured as a left-back in the second and third tiers of Swedish football before retiring in 2013.
After that he moved into coaching, firstly as assistant manager at Varbergs before becoming manager of third tier side Tvaakers in 2016. After a season there, he returned to Halmstads as assistant to Jan Jonsson, but in June last year he was promoted to manager and has since won 11 of his 31 games in charge.
Who are their notable players?
Icelandic attacker Höskuldur Gunnlaugsson (above) currently sits on top of the club’s goalscoring charts this season with four strikes to his name, alongside Kosuke Kinoshita – the first Japanese player to play in the Allsvenskan – and Sweden under-19 prospect Gabriel Gudmundsson.
Captain Peter Larsson started his career with Halmstads before winning two Danish Superliga titles with FC Copenhagen and gaining two Swedish caps before returning to the club for the start of the current campaign, while Tryggvi Hrafn Haraldsson is a current Icelandic international and has won three caps.
What about the city?
Halmstad is on the west coast of Sweden, situated roughly midway between Malmo and Gothenburg. It has been a city for over 700 years, having previously been part of the Kingdom of Denmark before Sweden claimed it in the 17th century.
It has experienced a boom during the past 20 years, having seen its population grow from 48,000 in 1990 to around 94,000 today and is one of Sweden’s top tourist destinations. Visitors mainly enjoy its beaches, with its most famous being Tylösand which can have as many as 40,000 guests on a sunny summer day.