Euro 2012: spotlight on Sweden
- 04 June 2012 16:52
- Posted by Mark Booth
The Lars Lagerback era is over but Eric Hamren's men will be ready to capitalise on any Anglo-Franco slip-ups.
Sweden is a nation with excellent tournament pedigree and will be ready to make the most of any slip-ups from Roy Hodgson’s England or Laurent Blanc’s France. In Zlatan Ibrahimovic they have a match-winner and, as always, they benefit from a strong and spirited spine.
If there is a weakness, it’s a lack of pace that may be exploited by quick counter-attacks but they’re dangerous at set-pieces, thanks to Seb Larsson’s measured deliveries and their collection of 6ft-plus players.
City connection: John Guidetti
“Super Guidetti” has yet to make an appearance for Manchester City but the Swedish striker has already shown enough on loan spells at Burnley and Feyenoord to suggest it might be a matter of time before he makes the step up to the City first team.
A recent Umbro advert in Sweden had Zlatan Ibrahimovic on one half with the word “present” and John Guidetti on the other half with the word “future”. This testifies to the high esteem with which John is held in his homeland as the natural successor to their talisman.
Guidetti topped the Eredivisie goal-scoring charts with 20 goals this season and would have been heading to Euro 2012 himself had he not picked up an inflamed nerve in his thigh in the weeks leading up to the tournament.
The boss: Erik Hamren
Lars Lagerback might have been a tough act to follow after his nine-year stint in charge of the Swedish national team but Erik Hamren has given his country plenty of cause for optimism during his two years in charge.
Failing to qualify for the 2010 World Cup did for Lagerback but there were no such problems this time, after the former Rosenborg boss guided his country to Poland and Ukraine as best runners-up.
One to watch: Pontus Wernbloom
It’s rare that a footballer has an interest in politics but that’s not the only remarkable thing about Pontus Wernbloom.
The versatile CSKA midfielder is a combative, strong player with good passing range and stamina. He joined CSKA from AZ earlier this year and scored against Real Madrid in this year’s Champions League.
The 25-year old’s political leanings saw him take a stand against the Swedish Democrats before the 2010 election.
Key player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The AC Milan hit-man might have saved his very best form for his club team but he’s still a force to be reckoned with at international level, as his record of 14 goals in 75 appearances proves.
"Ibra" is the kind of striker who lies in wait before exploding to life with match-defining moments of quality – volleys from long range being his specialty.
Odds via Paddy Power: 66/1
Goalkeepers: Andreas Isaksson (PSV Eindhoven), Johan Wiland, (FC Copenhagen, Pär Hansson (Helsingborg)
Defenders: Mikael Lustig (Celtic), Olof Mellberg (Olympiakos), Andreas Granqvist (Genoa), Martin Olsson, (Blackburn), Jonas Olsson (West Bromwich), Behrang Safari (Anderlecht), Mikael Antonsson (Bologna)
Midfielders: Rasmus Elm (AZ Alkmaar), Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland), Kim Kallstrom (Lyon), Anders Svensson (Elfsborg), Pontus Wernbloom (CSKA Moscow), Samuel Holmen (Istanbul BB), Emir Bajrami (Twente), Christian Wilhelmsson (al-Hilal)
Strikers: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan), Johan Elmander (Galatasaray), Tobias Hysen (IFK Gothenburg), Ola Toivonen (PSV Eindhoven), Marcus Rosenberg (Werder Bremen).
Come along and enjoy Euro 2012 at City Square, the only outdoor venue in Manchester showing the England matches. We are kicking off with England’s opening match against France on June 11, with City Square open from 2:30pm.
There will be free giveaways from the CityStore and EA, parking is free and The Summerbee Bar, Blue Moon Café and Star Bar will all be open.
Tickets are priced at £5 for adults and £3 for kids and are available now from the box office - advance purchase only.