With a couple of minutes remaining in Sweden’s chaotic European Championship match in opposition to Poland, Janne Andersson determined to have some enjoyable within the technical space.
Sweden’s often straight-laced coach noticed a member of Poland’s backroom workers, Jakub Kwiatkowski, scrambling to collect the free ball that had been kicked out of play and received to it first.
As Kwiatkowski confronted him, Andersson performed the ball between his counterpart’s legs and smiled at him.
“I tunnelled him,” Andersson stated, utilizing a traditional Swedish time period for the soccer transfer.
“He got annoyed, but I was happy with the tunnel.
“I didn’t do it to mock him. He just came and I happened to put it between his legs.”
As for flamboyance on the sphere, effectively, that is been briefly provide with Sweden at Euro 2020.
And that fits Andersson simply high-quality.
Sweden, one of many continent’s most pragmatic — some may say boring — groups, is within the knockout stage of a significant event as soon as once more. And like at the 2018 World Cup, the crew has executed so by topping its group.
A 0-0 draw in opposition to a Spain crew that had 85% ball possession was adopted by a sleepy 1-0 victory over Slovakia. OK, the 3-2 victory over Poland on Wednesday was really plenty of enjoyable, however that was as a result of the Poles have been pressured to go on all-out assault looking for a win to qualify.
Sweden was ruthless in selecting them off, scoring 3 times from its 4 pictures on track, however the crew did not look as snug in such an end-to-end sport.
Still, Andersson’s crew is now unbeaten in eight matches in 2021, successful seven of them and preserving six clear sheets alongside the way in which.
“People continue to underestimate us,” stated Sweden midfielder Viktor Claesson, who scored the stoppage-time winner in opposition to Poland.
“We won our group at the World Cup and now at the European Championship.
“No one believed we could.”
It may be time to take Sweden significantly, and Ukraine — its opponent within the spherical of 16 in Glasgow on Tuesday — can solely be anticipating a troublesome sport.
“I do believe teams think we are difficult to play against,” Andersson stated.
“And it should be difficult to play against us.”
That is Andersson’s model. Difficult, strong, well-drilled. After all, he’s a disciple of the 4-4-2 system launched and ingrained in Swedish soccer by English coaches Bob Houghton and Roy Hodgson within the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties.
Two hard-working banks of 4, plus a few often strapping strikers who run the channels, harass defenders and relish the aerial battle.
Andersson’s present Sweden crew — which is with out Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Euro 2020 after his worldwide comeback was placed on maintain due to damage — has a few artistic and thrilling attacking wildcards in striker Alexander Isak and winger Dejan Kulusevski.
But the fundamentals of a typical Swedish nationwide crew are all there, particularly in proper midfielder Sebastian Larsson, nonetheless dependable as ever at 36, and the central-midfield pairing of Kristoffer Olssson and Albin Ekdal, for whom the time period stable might have been invented.
Andersson is aware of there are a number of opponents with higher high quality on this event however few, if any, have the teamwork, self-discipline and group of Sweden.
“No matter what I do, someone will always have an opinion about me,” he stated.
“I decided a long time ago I wasn’t going to care about other people’s opinions. We have to focus on what we are doing and on what we want to do.”
Sweden will begin because the marginal favourite in opposition to Ukraine and a win would see the crew match its achievement of 2018, when it reached the quarterfinals earlier than shedding to England. And, as destiny would have it, England might but be a quarterfinal opponent once more if it beats Germany within the final 16.
For now, it is all about relaxation and recovery after the win over Poland in uncomfortably scorching circumstances in St. Petersburg.
There’ll be no midsummer celebrations with their households for Sweden’s gamers this year — the nation’s nationwide day is on June 26, three days earlier than the Ukraine sport — however that is a sacrifice they’re glad to make.
“To me, celebrating midsummer is about having herring and potato salads,” Andersson stated. “(This year) we will have a small beer on the way home.”
This story has been printed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content.