Euro 2020 profile: Sweden must cope without their stars

by | Jun 9, 2021 14:07

14 June – Spain (8pm GMT, Estadio Olimpico, Sevilla)

18 June – Slovakia (2pm GMT, Saint-Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg)

23 June – Poland (5pm GMT, Saint-Petersburg Stadium, St. Petersburg)

Sweden have the quality to go beyond the group stage and dream big, but it remains to be seen how much they’ll miss the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Dejan Kulusevski, writes Martin Monk.

Sweden inspired by Cinderella story

Sweden must cope without Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic after all, as the 39-year-old had to pull out of Euro 2020 due to a knee injury only a few months after announcing his return to international football.

The Blue and Yellow had great expectations when the veteran returned to the national team this spring, but coach Janne Anderson must do without the nations leading goalscorer, just like he did in the 2018 World Cup.

Sweden are looking to build on the World Cup quarter-final appearance in Russia three years ago and they continue to establish their presence in the European Championship, preparing to participate for the sixth time in a row.

Andersson’s men look solid at the back and dangerous in attack and are set to give anyone problems after securing a place in the finals by finishing second behind Spain in Group F of the qualifiers.

With talented RB Leipzig midfielder Emil Forsberg and Real Sociedad starlet Alexander Isak in the squad, the Blågul are expected to carry themselves well even in Zlatan’s absence. Juventus starlet Dejan Kulusevski could have had a chance to shine as well, but the 21-year-old tested positive for COVID just before the beginning of the tournament, along with Bologna’s Mattias Svanberg, and it remains to be seen if they’ll be able to recover before Euro 2020 ends.

The country’s best performance so far in the European Championships came in 1992, when they hosted the competition. That time, the Scandinavians reached the semi-finals and will hope for another fairy tale this summer.

Sweden find themselves in a quite balanced group with Spain, Slovakia and Poland and have the quality to go beyond the first stage of the competition and dream big. However, it’s fair to say Lady Luck turned her back on the Scandinavians whose fortunes will massively depend on how they cope without their stars.

Coach: Janne Andersson — The 58-year-old was appointed Sweden CT in June 2016 and guided the Blue and Yellow to a remarkable quarter-final in the 2018 World Cup. He prefers a 4-4-2 formation but experimented with a 4-3-3 in the last friendly match ahead of Euro 2020.

Preferred XI: Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Danielson, Bengtsson; Kulusevski, Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg; Berg, Isak

Look out for: Alexander Isak could prove crucial for Sweden’s success, as the 21-year-old continues to impress in La Liga with Real Sociedad and is now expected to stand out in the absence of Zlatan.

Sweden Euro 2020 squad

Goalkeepers: Karl-Johan Johnsson (København), Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Gençlerbirliği), Robin Olsen (Everton)

Defenders: Emil Krafth (Newcastle United), Victor Lindelöf (Manchester United), Marcus Danielson (Dalian Yifang), Pierre Bengtsson (Vejle), Ludwig Augustinsson (Werder Bremen), Pontus Jansson (Brentford), Filip Helander (Rangers), Mikael Lustig (AIK), Andreas Granqvist (Helsingborg)

Midfielders: Emil Forsberg (Leipzig), Ken Sema (Watford), Viktor Claesson (Krasnodar), Dejan Kulusevski* (Juventus), Sebastian Larsson (AIK), Albin Ekdal (Sampdoria), Kristoffer Olsson (Krasnodar), Jens-Lys Cajuste (Midtjylland), Mattias Svanberg* (Bologna), Gustav Svensson (Guangzhou)

Forwards: Marcus Berg (Krasnodar), Alexander Isak (Real Sociedad), Robin Quaison (Mainz), Jordan Larsson (Spartak Moskva)

*tested positive for COVID

Sweden versus…

Spain P 14 W 3 D 5 L 6 F 15 A 23

Slovakia P 6 W 3 D 3 L 0 F 11 A 2

Poland P 26 W 14 D 4 L 8 F 56 A 37

Stats

Population: 10.4m

Nickname: Blågult (Blue and Yellow)

Top Division: Allsvenskan

FIFA World Ranking: 18

International honours: none

Most capped player: Anders Svensson (148)

Leading international scorer: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (62)

Sweden at the European Championships:

1960 – Did not enter

1964 – Did not qualify

1968 – Did not qualify

1972 – Did not qualify

1976 – Did not qualify

1980 – Did not qualify

1984 – Did not qualify

1988 – Did not qualify

1992 – Semi-Final

1996 – Did not qualify

2000 – Group stage

2004 – Quarter-Final

2008 – Group stage

2012 – Group stage

2016 – Group stage

How they got to Euro 2020: Sweden secured a place in Euro 2020 by finishing second behind

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