Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Euro 2008 Team Profiles: Sweden ** UPDATE

Today's installment of UF's Euro 2008 preview brings you fair readers the blonde hair and blue-eyed Nords from the Kingdom of Sweden. The land of the Swedish Bikini Team, lutefisk, the Swedish Chef, and IKEA. I volunteered to write up the preview not out of any allegiances, but to merely post the picture to the right.

Sweden has never won a major tournament but is a perennial qualifier. The country has produced world class talent, but has only finished as high as runner-up and third-place in the 1958 and 1994 World Cups, respectively. Sweden qualified for Euro 2008 second in its group behind Spain.

Qualifying was not without significant events. During its match against Denmark, a Danish fan attacked the referee after he red carded a Dane. Denmark forfeited the match as a result.

Heading into Euro 2008, Sweden has significant injury issues. Starting defender Erik Edman is out with an ACL tear; perennially injured and highly talented Zlatan Ibrahimovic is struggling with fitness; and, captain cum underwear model cum midfielder Freddy Llungberg (if forced to choose, I would take Freddy over Becks, but since I am not forced let's forget I ever said anything)is battling a rib injury.

I couldn't seem to locate much about the expected squad but below was the team called up for a recent friendly against Brazil.

Goalkeepers - Andreas Isaksson, Manchester City; Rami Shaaban, Hammarby

Defenders - Daniel Majstorovic, Basel; Olof Mellberg, Aston Villa; Mikael Nilsson, Panathinaikos; Erik Edman, Wigan; Fredrik Risp, Ankarastor; Fredrik Stoor, Rosenborg

Midfielders - Niclas Alexandorsson, IFK Göteborg; Daniel Andersson, MFF; Kim Källström, Lyon; Christian Wilhelmsson, Deportivo; Anders Svensson, Elfsborg; Sebastian Larsson, Birmingham; Kennedy Bakircioglü, Ajax; Fredrik Ljungberg, West Ham

Attackers - Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Inter; Johan Elmander, Toulouse; Marcus Allbäck, FC Köpenhamn; Marcus Rosenberg, Werder Bremen.

Ibrahimovic is probably the Swede's best player, but without a strong midfield he isn't the type to put a team on his back. Unfortunately, Sweden doesn't have the imperious midfielder Ibrahimovic needs. So, on to the pertinent questions.

(1) Could England beat this team? Of course. England is one of the top squads in the world filled with talented players, who never perform up to standard in meaningful matches. So, England could beat the team in a friendly but would have trouble in a tournament.

(2) Can Sweden win Euro 2008? Well, they have a better chance than England. But, so does everybody else. It would require an incredible run of luck. Joining Sweden in Group D are Spain, Russia and the defending champs. My money is on Spain topping the group, with the other three battling it out for the other spot. Greece will not surprise anybody this time and Russia probably doesn't have the talent to advance. So, Sweden has a good chance to reach the knockout stages.

(3) What is the squad's pre-made excuse for not winning Euro 2008? Injuries and talent.

(4) What is the biggest question mark surrounding the team? As in most cases, it is whether they can play together well as a team. There is moderate talent on the squad, they just need to play well together to advance.

(5) Who is their worst player? Who knows? Certainly not me.

UPDATE - 5/14/08: Sweden has named its Euro 2008 squad and has a surprise callup of Henrik Larsson who had retired from international football after the 2006 World Cup.

Goalkeepers: Andreas Isaksson (Man. City, England), Rami Shaaban (Hammarby), Johan Wiland (Elfsborg)

Defenders: Olof Mellberg (Aston Villa, England), Petter Hansson (Rennes, France), Mikael Nilsson (Panathinaikos, Greece), Niclas Alexandersson (IFK Gothenburg), Andreas Granqvist (Helsingborg), Daniel Majstorovic (FC Basel, Switzerland), Fredrik Stoor (Rosenborg, Norway), Mikael Dorsin (CFR Cluj, Romania)

Midfielders: Tobias Linderoth (Galatasaray, Turley), Daniel Andersson (Malmo), Anders Svensson (Elfsborg), Kim Kallstrom (Lyon, France), Christian Wilhelmsson (Deportivo Coruna, Spain), Fredrik Ljungberg (West Ham, England), Sebastian Larsson (Birmingham City, England)

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan, Italy), Johan Elmander (Toulouse, France), Marcus Allback (FC Copenhagen, Denmark), Markus Rosenberg (Werder Bremen, Germany), Henrik Larsson (Helsingborg).


The NY Kid said...

Tee hee - that's a penis.

Lingering Bursitis said...

That spunky young lady loves that penis drinking cup as much as Ashley Cole loves actual penises.

The NY Kid said...

That's a lot of guys with girl-sounding names.

And Elfsborg? No players from Jarntroll?

Gustav Lundblad said...

Comment on question 1: England hasn't beat Sweden since 1968.