UEFA EURO 2012 Team Preview – Sweden

Population 9.4 million Area 449,964km2 Capital Stockholm Currency Swedish krona Official Language Swedish

FOOTBALL FACTFILE

Football Asocciation Svenska Fotbollförbundet (SvFF) Official Site http://www.svenskfotboll.se Year of formation 1904 Euro Ranking 13 World Ranking 17 National Stadium Rasunda Stadium, Stockholm Well-known club sides IFK Goteborg, Heisingborg, AIK, Malmo FF Leading goalscorers Sven Rydell (49), Gunnar Nordahi (43), Henrik Larsson (37) Most capped players Thomas Ravelli (143), Roland Nilsson (116), Bjorn Nordqvist (115) European Championship finals attended 1992, 2000, 2004, 2008 Best European Championship performance Semi-finals 1992 Playing Record in European Championship P105 W52 D24 L29 Odds of winning UEFA EURO 2012 66/1

JOURNEY TO POLAND/UKRAINE

Despite not winning a knock-out match at any major finals since 1994, Sweden showed they have grit, determination and desire by conquering a previously unbeaten Dutch side in their final match of their Group E UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying campaign, and as a result ensured sutomatic qualification.

They came from 2-1 down to beat the number four side in the world 3-2 thanks to a penalty from Sebastian Larsson (who’ll be a threat from set-pieces in Poland/Ukraine) and a goal, one minute later, from Ola Toivonen.

They began their campaign with an unbroken eight goals in home games against Hungary and Sani Marino, winning 2-0 and 6-0. But a 4-1 defeat by the Dutch in Amsterdam mean direct qualification from the group – avoiding the play-offs was going to be an uphill struggle.

Subsequent victories, home and away, against Moldova and at home to Finland were expected but necessary. Though losing to Hungary 2-1 in Budapest suggested the route through the play-off back door was inevitable. It wasn’t.

The Swedes have flattered to deceive since their rambunctious Tomas Brolin-inspired performance as co-hosts in 1992. On paper, this team should not trouble either.

France or England for a quarter-final place. But football isn’t played on paper, and the mighty Oranjemen can atleast that Sweden will not roll over easily.

HOW THEY GOT THERE

03/09/2010 – Group E – Sweden 2-0 Hungary
07/09/2010 – Group E – Sweden 6-0 San Marino
12/10/2010 – Group E – Netherlands 4-1 Sweden
29/03/2011 – Group E – Sweden 2-1 Moldova
03/06/2011 – Group E – Moldova 1-4 Sweden
07/06/2011 – Group E – Sweden 5-0 Finland
02/09/2011 – Group E – Hungary 2-1 Sweden
06/09/2011 – Group E – San Marino 0-5 Sweden
07/10/2011 – Group E – Finland 1-2 Sweden
11/10/2011 – Group E – Sweden 3-2 Netherlands

HOME AND AWAY KITS

GROUP FIXTURES – GROUP D

Sunday, 11/06 – Ukraine v Sweden (Kiev, 19:45)
Friday, 15/06 – Sweden v England (Kiev, 19:45)
Tuesday, 19/06 – France v Sweden (Kiev, 19:45)

FINAL SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Andreas Isaksson (PSV Eindhoven), Johan Wiland (FC København), Pär Hansson (Helsingborgs IF).

Defenders: Mikael Antonsson (Bologna FC), Andreas Granqvist (Genoa CFC), Olof Mellberg (Olympiacos FC), Jonas Olsson (West Bromwich Albion FC), Martin Olsson (Blackburn Rovers FC), Behrang Safari (RSC Anderlecht), Mikael Lustig (Celtic FC).

Midfielders: Emir Bajrami (FC Twente), Rasmus Elm (AZ Alkmaar), Samuel Holmén (İstanbul BB SK), Kim Källström (Olympique Lyonnais), Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland AFC), Anders Svensson (IF Elfsborg), Pontus Wernbloom (PFC CSKA Moskva), Christian Wilhelmsson (Al-Hilal FC).

Forwards: Johan Elmander (Galatasaray AŞ), Tobias Hysén (IFK Göteborg), Zlatan Ibrahimović (AC Milan), Markus Rosenberg (SV Werder Bremen), Ola Toivonen (PSV Eindhoven).

THE CAPTAIN – ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC

A serial goalscorer with some of the itchiest feet in modern European football, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played for Malmo FF, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Miland, Barcelona and AC Milan, and is still only 30. Although some see him as a maverick who rarely performs on the big occasions, he remains one of the biggest threats at UEFA EURO 2012 and will be a tightly marked man in Group D.

THE KEEPER – ANDREAS ISAKSSON

 Voted best Swedish goalkeeper for four consecutive years from 2002 to 2005, and world-renowned for his shot-stopping abilities, Andreas Isaksson has been a PSV Eindhoven regular since he took the number one jersey from Heurelho Gomes in 2008. With an international resume spanning UEFA EURO 2004, FIFA World Cup 2006 and UEFA EURO 2008, Isaksson’s influence and experience will be vital.

STAR MAN – KIM KALLSTROM

Aside from maverick skipper Ibrahimovic, Lyon’s left-footed Kim Källström was outstanding performer for Sweden during qualifying. He equalled Germany’s Mesut Özil as top assist-maker, with seven, and contributed three finishes while he was at it. The 29-year-old’s Champions League pedigree, and eye for manufacturing and finishing a chance, will be vital if Sweden are to produce upsets at UEFA EURO 2012. Källström scores twice as many goals for his country as he does at club level and will get warm-up somewhat against Ukraine before his country’s two biggest tests.

THE MANAGER – ERIK HAMREN

Not qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup cost Lars Lagerbäck his and respect Scandinavian coach Erik Hamrén has done a fine hob of filling his boots/overcoat since. Hamrén has worked in Norway, Denmark and Sweden during an illustrious managerial career, taking lowly Aalborg into the UEFA Champions League in 2008 before accepting the national position. One of the more unassuming coaches at the championships. Hamrén will be happy to let his players take the spotlight in Poland/Ukraine.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTION

Group Stage – The Swedish side travelling to Poland/Ukraine lacks the quality of previous squad and with a very tough group it is hard to see them progressing. If they have to stand any chance of making it through to the 2nd round, Ibrahimovic and Källström will have to be in top form and will also have to hope the likes of England and France falter.

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