Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sweden-Russia (Sverige-Ryssland) Euro 2008

First off, there is nothing better in all of international sports than the beginning of the game when the crowd stands and sings their respective national anthems along with their teams. Nothing. I will not argue this point. It is fact.

Anyway, Sweden played Russia last night. And by that I mean Sweden showed up for the game. And that’s about it. Because they got slaughtered. Even I could see that. Russia was like the little brother who suddenly realizes that they aren’t as little as they used to be and can actually hang in there when playing sports. While the big brother bitches about being fouled, little brother just keeps playing. And winning. This seems especially apt considering that Sweden was one of the oldest teams in the tournament, if not the oldest, and Russia was one of the youngest, if not the youngest.

While I applauded the Swedes for their ability to man up and not bitch and moan when playing against Spain (aside from the 90+2nd minute) last night they chapped my ass. So much falling down. Mouths flapping. Arms waving. Bitching about calls and non-calls. Just play.

Sweden was absolutely dominated for the first 35 minutes. Then they decided to pick it up in the last 10+1 minutes of the first half. Unfortunately, not enough to actually get that goal they needed to bring it back to a tie game. The second half didn’t get any better. There was hope from the Swedish announcers that maybe those closing 11 minutes would give the team something to build on. They were wrong.

It was pretty obvious that the Swedes just didn’t have it in them. And instead of seeing a desperation towards the end of the game I saw resignation. And that’s something you never want to see in your national team. Sweden, as a country, was ready for a victory. Weren’t all that many people that actually thought Sweden would lose this game. A tie maybe. But not a 2-0 loss.

The general consensus was that if Ibrahimovic played, then Sweden would win. Because one man makes a team in a sport with 11 guys on each side of the ball. He’s been battling a knee injury and had been taken out the previous two games immediately after having scored. He was not so lucky this time. Instead, Sweden showed that they are old, have very little offense to speak of, and what offense they do have relies on Ibrahimovic. No way to compete for a championship against the best that Europe has to offer.

Of course now people are calling for the coach’s head. And maybe Lagerbäck deserves some of the criticism. But it seemed obvious that Sweden just wasn’t as good and at least Lagerbäck had the balls to admit that. Whether that is the fault of the coach, or just a lack of talent on the Swedish side I couldn’t say. But if Sweden hopes to make any noise in the next tournament something has to change.

That being said, having watched most of three games involving the Swedish national soccer team I have adopted a favorite player. Some might assume it’s one of the big three, Larsson, Ibrahimovic, or Ljungberg. Those people would assume wrong. My favorite player is a defenseman. Olof Mellberg. Have you seen that beard? It’s a thing of Scandinavian beauty. Unfortunately, the game was not a thing of Scandinavian beauty.

17 comments:

  1. this time I agree with you. we were old. they were young, we were tired, they were like the duracell rabbit, it was embarrassing. But well, hopefully this can make Lasse Lagerbäck quit and we'll get a better coach. AND we would have been slaughtered AND RAPED if we'd play against Holland in the quarter final, so I'm not too upset about this. what did upset me a little is that portugal got beaten against germany today.. DAMN IT.. no hot cristiano to watch anymore!

    and I noticed something today when I was on the underground.. they've started to say the stations in english, "next stop Gamla stan", haha kinda funny

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm not gonna comment on the game as I didn't see it. Decided to party instead. The day after it felt like a really good option. The hangover would have been the same anyway ;) I have the same fav player as you. The man is just soooooooo gorgeous - beard or no beard. Sorry, being female you know...haha.

    Hope you get to have a great midsummer!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Was tottally embarassed when watching this game, been on a trip through europe during the Euroes, watching every game that has been played in pubs/bars/public viewings... But man.. when i watched this in Amsterdam i got so depressed, after 75 minutes i just stopped looking at the screen and started looking at girls around in the bar... That night went from a certain explosive party night to a few mournful hours before a flight home.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You read the game like an open book, man! Justice is there, after all. Thought I would have like to see Sweden score so the game would have been more electrified in the end.

    Mellberg's beard was pretty impressive. I noticed that too. But if you say that with a different coach the same team would have made the difference, that's bull. No coach can do miracles, old men don't get young no matter who's coaching them...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well... its not really about that only. Sebastian Larsson for example got to play 15 minutes in total. He should had been giving a chance, especially when chippen was out of the game.

    I'm not even sure i want to see henrik larsson and the other profiles we got as a certain card. We need to reinvent ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Smek this, Lagerbäck could have (and if you ask me should have) picked other players than he did. He chose the oldest (and not the best) players and didn't let the young players play. He plays with coward defensive tactics instead of brave attacking tactics, he isn't good at motivating the players and he didn't make good substitutions and he didn't make them on time. A lot of the blame has to go to Lagerbäck. It's not only his fault that we lost to Russia, they are a good side as we could see in the match against Holland, but it's certainly his fault that Sweden hasn't come further than a quarter final in the Euros and a eighth-final (åttondelsfinal) in the World Cup during the last eight years. He's too much of a coward and he doesn't dare to take a risk, not with his tactics and not with young inexperienced players. He has been the head coach for 8 years (or more...) and he still hasn't achieved anything even remotely big. I want someone like Guus Hiddink who dares to attack and let young inexperienced players play. I definitely think Lagerbäck should resign.

    ReplyDelete
  8. it is interesting to see that both the teams Sweden lost to (Spain and Russia) have moved on. In no way does that mean I think that Sweden is better than they are, but just an observation.

    Seems like Lagerbäck isn't going to quit. Will he be fired or is it going to take a failure at the World Cup for that to happen?

    ReplyDelete
  9. @lea - I've noticed the English thing too. I wonder if it is just during the summer when the tourists are here. Or if it's just the popular stations like Gamla Stan. Anyone have any ideas?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Robban, you're probably right. I just get carried away with the fact that Finland has NEVER been qualified in ANY MAJOR tournaments in football. EVER. With any coach, foreign or not. So my goals are not that high and I keep forgetting that Sweden has actually achieved something worth mentioning in the past... I would say 'bra jobbat, Sverige' but I guess it would be wrong at a time like this...

    ReplyDelete
  11. why can finland produce good hockey players but struggle with the soccer players?

    ReplyDelete
  12. yeah it's just on the metro stations in the centre of stockholm so it must be because of the tourism, but as far as I know they've never done this before so it might be here to stay ;P

    and swedish people are suckers for english, and everything's supposed to be in english, commercials and all kinds of products we buy, why do they write "coconut milk" on the label when the rest of it is in swedish, I don't really understand the reason for that, but if it'll make things easier for tourists and help swedes learn english then I guess it's a good thing XD

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ill be honest. I dont like that there is so much in english. I can kind of understand the busy stations during tourist season. but the ads and labels and stuff. put it in swedish. I think it dilutes the language. and thats no good. swedes should embrace the swedish.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I absolutely agree with you, Hairy. I don't like it either. Fortunately enough, I haven't seen that much of it in Gothenburg. I want ads, products directed at me as a customer in my own country to be in my language. A couple (or maybe a lot, I don't know, but stil...) of tourists is no reason to change the language of those things. I can't see no other reason, either, unless that it might be cool, which it really isn't. It makes me kind of pissed off, frankly. If you want to sell something to me in MY OWN country sell it to me in MY OWN language! It's as simple as that, really.

    ReplyDelete
  15. agreed. I understand that the influence of different languages is how languages evolve and grow. look at english for example with the various influences from french, german, spanish, etc... that being said I believe that there is some sort of tipping point and that if you allow too much of a different language you not only stop your native language from growing but instead dilute it to an extent that it becomes unrecognizable. now obviously, Swedish has quite a ways to go before anything that drastic happens. but it is a little ridiculous.


    so don't say "shit" say "skit." and don't say "yes" say "ja." It's the little things people.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Haha it's funny that you mention Mellbergs beard, since he was known as "the man, the myth, the beard" when he played for Aston Villa! :D
    like the blog btw.
    cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  17. oh wow... I had no idea. That's an amazing nickname. And very fitting.

    ReplyDelete