England take on Sweden this Friday in their crucial Group D match. Here, we take a look at the view from Scandinavia, and find a nation in even more pessimistic mood than the English...
Mats Olsson from the Expressen newspaper takes a dim view of his country’s chances: “A bit like when you fall off a horse, you should immediately get back into the saddle… but how to get back into the saddle against England is currently inconceivable.” This reflects a common outlook amongst Swedes that after the disarray of the Ukraine match, finding any cohesion and direction against England is almost impossible.
Swedish Tabloid Aftonbladet reports: “The British are laughing at the turbulence in the Sweden camp after the Ukraine match.”
This headline follows Zlatan Ibrahimovic reportedly hitting out at his fellow players for smiling and waving at their wives as they left the pitch following their poor display against Ukraine. Swedish coach Erik Hamren also launched a scathing attack on his players after their opening match, labeling his players "cowards".
As well as the criticism received for their display against Ukraine and their internal disputes after the game, the Swedish team has been hit by accusations of bullying. "Criticised for bullying game" is the headline in the Gotenborgs Posten. The newspaper reports today that the Swedish “team is slated for a game where Johan Wiland as a punishment had to pull down his pants and be exposed to shooting practice.” This whole debacle has provided certain entertainment for the English and has provided yet another hindrance to Swedish preparations.
With their side having already lost to the team considered the weakest opponent in Group D, Svenska Dagbladet assesses Sweden’s chances from a financial perspective: “ ‘Cheap’ Sweden in trouble in the European Championships.”
The paper adds: “England and France – the remaining opponents in the group stage – are valued at about three times as high as blue and yellow… Sweden must work better as a team than the group favourites to reach the quarter-finals.”
The Svenska Dagbladet implies that the relative values of the two teams will make Sweden’s game against England an uphill struggle.
The Swedish outlook is not entirely negative though as Robert Borjesson from The Expressen points out: “Hodgson should be more worried.” This comment comes amidst accusations that England players will try to get under the skin of their opposition through provocative comments and foul play.
“One of the Premier League’s top scoring strikers once said confidentially that if you just filmed John Terry during a game you would see how he kept kicking the strikers on their heels.”
In the face of this opposition some Swedes see their only chance of winning to be if their players keep a cool head and take advantage of the relative inexperience of the English.
“Our hope? This is one of the most inexperienced English national teams we [Sweden] have met in years. If anyone should be worried that his players will lose their temper, it is Roy Hodgson.”
Ola Billger, a blogger for Svenska Dagbladet takes the view that the only way is up: “A light in the European Championship dark?” Despite hitting rock bottom in their performance against Ukraine and their off-pitch troubles Billger says that things cannot get worse for the Swedes and that there are some aspects which favour them.
“England is certainly a better team than Sweden, but their preparation has not been optimal. Sweden is something of a bogey team for England.” As England have only had three games and ten training sessions under Roy Hodgson this match perhaps offers a chance of redemption for the Swedes since, “Ibrahimovic, Mellberg, Larsson, Kallstrom, Elm and the other can hardly play worse in the next two games than they did against Ukraine.”
The popular view is that the Swedes will not be able to defeat England on Friday night. However all hope is not lost.