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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Euro 2008: Sweden Squad

Sweden is not a big team in world football, though Swedish football team has a number of international successes in the major football tournaments. With Euro 2008 coming nearer, Swedish fans are now getting excited to see some impressive performances from Sweden in the tournament. Actually, Sweden has lost many of its past glory, but still in Europe, Sweden is a strong side that very often can halt the football powers. Euro 2008 kicks off from 7 June 2008.

Sweden has two successful eras in world football. One was in 1950s. The best ever performance by Sweden in world football came exactly 50 years ago in 1958 World Cup held in Sweden, where Sweden ended up becoming runner up being lost to Brazil in the final. Eight years earlier, Sweden finished third in the 1950 world cup tournament. Since then, Swedish football went though many ups and downs. Finally, Sweden once again appeared with their past glory in world football in the 1990’s. Though European Champions or Euro tournament started since 1960, Sweden first took part in Euro 1992 and in their first appearance in Euro, Sweden reached the semi final which is still Sweden’s best performance in the European championship. Two years later, Sweden won the third place in 1994 world cup tournament. Since then, Sweden could not show anything special. Ahead of Euro 2008, Swedish team now has got to prove that their second successful era in world football that was started in the 1990’s has not finished yet. Sweden could reach the quarter final of Euro 2004. Sweden finished second to Spain in the group F of qualifying round, but they impressed their fans by defeating Spain in the home match. It is true that they lost away at Northern Ireland and Spain, their performance was up to the mark in the qualifying round. In fact, Sweden’s entrance in Euro 2008 final is their fifth straight entrance in a major football tournament.

Well, Sweden will find defending champion Greece, football power house Spain and Russia as their opponents in Group D in the final tournament. You may not need any introduction for Greece and Spain. For Russia, I would like to mention here that Russia came though such a group that included Croatia and England in the qualifying round and Russia’s inspirational performance in the qualifying round was one of the most important reasons behind England’s failure to win the ticket of Euro 2008 final tournament. On pen and paper, Greece and Spain are the most favorite to progress to the next round from group D, but I think, Sweden has a good chance to win the ticket of the knock out round of Euro 2008. So, if Sweden can play according to their ability, then the opponents of Group D is going to face a tough challenge from Sweden in the tournament.

Date

Competing Teams

Venue

10 June 2008

Tuesday

Sweden vs Greece

EM Stadion Wals-Siezenheim, Salzburg

14 June 2008

Saturday

Sweden vs Spain

Tivoli-Neu Stadion, Innsbruck

18 June 2008

Wednesday

Sweden vs Russia

Tivoli-Neu Stadion, Innsbruck

Swedish squad for Euro 2008 includes a number of experienced footballers and report has it that Euro 2008 is most probably the last major international tournament for about ten players of the current Sweden squad. In fact, the squad includes only three players who are below 25 years. Coach Lars Lagerback has made a long time impression in Sweden team leading Sweden to win fifth straight entrance in major football tournament. No doubt, it is an excellent success for Lars Lagerback and the consistency Sweden showed in the last few tournaments is really something praiseworthy.

Now, let us look at the Sweden squad, its strength and weakness. To begin with, Coach Lagerback made a surprise call for veteran star striker Henrik Larsson, who has come out of international retirement for the third time in order to play in Euro 2008 tournament. You might know a lot about this striker who served Sweden for a long time at international stage. Larsson, at 36, is the eldest player of Sweden squad for Euro 2008 tournament. The Helsingborgs striker scored six goals in 11 appearances for his club last season. With the inclusion of Larsson, Sweden’s attack has been strengthened, and star forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who spent a successful season with Inter Milan last season, might make an effective partnership with Henrik Larsson. Still, Lagerback is left with a number of options in the attacking positions including Johan Elmander, Marcus Allback and Markus Rosenberg. Actually, attack is the main strength of Sweden. Their goal scoring prowess was proven in the qualifying round as Sweden scored 23 goals from 12 matches and this is equally best with Spain, though Spain conceded a goal less than Sweden in the qualifying round.

In the midfield, Sweden has two wingers: Fredrik Ljungberg and Christian Wilhelmsson, who can scale up the attack of Sweden. Sebastian Larsson, 22-year-old, is the youngest member of the squad and he is expected to show something impressive in the tournament as he spent an excellent season with Birmingham City in England. Galatasaray midfielder Tobias Linderoth has a big role for Sweden in the tournament. He can be deployed as a holding midfielder in order to strengthen the defense. Niklas Alexandersson and Anders Svensson are full of skill and can make a good impression in the midfield. In the defense, Sweden has some experienced members including Mikael Nilsson, Olof Mellberg, Petter Hansson and Daniel Majstorovic.

However, Sweden’s main problem lies in goal keeping position. First choice goal keeper Andreas Isaksson has lack of match practice as he spent most of the time at the bench of Manchester City last season. However, it seems that coach Lagerback has belief on Isaksson, despite his lack of match practice. This is perhaps the only thing Sweden coach can be worried about now. However, I think, Sweden has formed a strong side for Euro 2008 tournament. Now, let us see if Sweden can make Euro 2008 a successful tournament in what might be the best way of giving farewell to some of the veteran members of Swedish team at the end of Euro 2008 tournament. Here, I am giving the full list of 23-man Sweden squad for Euro 2008 from eurosport.yahoo:

Goalkeepers: Andreas Isaksson (Manchester City), Rami Shaaban (Hammarby), Johan Wiland (Elfsborg)

Defenders: Olof Mellberg (Juventus), Petter Hansson (Rennes), Mikael Nilsson (Panathinaikos), Fredrik Stoor (Rosenborg), Daniel Majstorovic (Basel), Andreas Granqvist (Wigan), Mikael Dorsin (CFR Cluj);

Midfielders: Niclas Alexandersson (Goteborg), Anders Svensson (Elfsborg), Freddie Ljungberg (West Ham), Daniel Andersson (Malmo), Christian Wilhelmsson (Deportivo), Tobias Linderoth (Galatasaray), Kim Kallstrom (Lyon), Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham)

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Internazionale), Henrik Larsson (Helsingborg), Johan Elmander (Toulouse), Marcus Allback (FC Copenhagen), Markus Rosenberg (Werder Bremen)

Related articles:

Wikipedia

Guardian

Euro 2008

worldcupblog

eurosport.yahoo

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