Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sweden-Spain (Sverige-Spanien) Euro 2008

The game started at 17:45 on Saturday the 14th of June. The final whistle blew at 19:51. That’s two hours and six minutes. And I won’t lie to you. I didn’t watch all of it. I just couldn’t do it. I know its Euro 2008. Or Euro ’08. Or whatever the hell it’s called. But I couldn’t do it.

The average baseball game is about two hours and fifty-one minutes. That’s from the first pitch to the last out. The average hockey game lasts about two hours and nineteen minutes. From the drop of the puck to the final horn. The average basketball game lasts about two hours and thirty minutes. From the tip to the final whistle. And I gladly sit through them. But two hours and six minutes of soccer I couldn’t do. So I missed parts of the first half. But sat through the entire second half.

In the end Sweden lost. At the 90+2 minute mark. Because of the extra time allotted at the end of the game. The announcers had been singing the praises of Sweden’s ability to fight and stay in the game. Basically the announcers were pumped about the potential tie. While we are talking about the announcers I was a little weirded out when one of the guys commented on the nice smile of Markus Rosenberg. Fair enough. Not really sure that the second half of a Sweden-Spain game in the European Championships is the time to be bringing that up. But, it being soccer, there was a bit of dead time.

What I saw was though was Sweden getting dominated and just being downright lucky to have not been down by that extra goal well before the 90+2 mark. They got away with a push in the back in the box that should have resulted in a penalty kick at the end of the first half. And still there is controversy. And Sweden is pissed because the play that led to Spain’s winning goal was thought to have been a foul. At least worthy of a free kick. Had there been a free kick, the reasoning goes, then Spain wouldn’t have kept the ball and David Villa wouldn’t have scored.

A quick tangent. I have written plenty of times about the amount of flopping, faked injuries, and general nonsense that I see in soccer games. I must give credit though. Last night, Sweden manned up. I saw very few flops, very few rolling around in agony only to pop right back up a few seconds later. I did see the goalie take a knee/thigh to his head and pop back up. Spain on the other hand, was less impressive. And I write that only because there was a Spaniard, I believe Carlos Marchena, who chapped my ass. And no one likes a chapped ass. The aforementioned Rosenberg was knocked down by our man Carlos a couple of times. Whether they were worthy of a free kick I’ll leave to the soccer aficionados, but Rosenberg went down. He didn’t roll. He didn’t act like a little bitch. But he didn’t pop right back up like nothing happened either. And Carlos decided that he had had enough and began motioning for Rosenberg to get up. Numerous times. In an aggressive manner. Not very befitting of Spaniard really. Considering his team had been trying to draw fouls all game by taking dives. But I digress.

This non-call is one of those few instances in sports where a decision, in this case to not blow the whistle, has a direct impact on the game. But considering the fact that Spain was clearly the better team, that Sweden got away with some non-calls, and that the second half was completely dominated by the Spaniards, Sweden shouldn’t have won. Or even tied really. When it comes down to it, the (much) better team won. Sweden needs to accept their fate.

Which is a very important game against Russia. Because a loss means they are going home. A win means they are going on. And actually a tie does too if I’m not mistaken. We’ll see what happens.

Welcome to Sweden, where even and American like me can write Euro ’08 commentary.


  1. the funny thing is, that this "When it comes down to it, the (much) better team won" isn't true, well at least not last night. Spain is the better team yes, but last night, during the first half, which you didn't really watch, we were the better team, I expected us to loose (sweden) but when I watched the first half I was like "damn, we can beat these guys, our 2-0 win in the qualifications wasn't just luck" and I felt positive about it all.. then zlatan got injured and couldn't play the second half and was replaced by roseberg who, well sucked so bad I felt sick just watching him. And our entire team sucked to.. shows how much we need our Ibra. anyways, that's why their win annoys me a little, coz that game could have easily ended with 3 points to us, but.. well I'm not too upset either since I expected o.. STILL, "When it comes down to it, the (much) better team won" is completely true ;)

  2. haha I mean, "ISN'T completely true" XD hahahah

    haha damn

  3. I have to agree with Lea a bit here. We were definitely being dominated in the econd half (even if Spain got very few actual scoring oppurtinities) but most of the first half we dominated and were clearly the better team (plus we got more scoring chances than Spain did when they were dominating). So, a tie would have been pretty fair. But a 1-2 loss for Sweden is also pretty fair since the Spaniards did dominate the whole second half and about 15 minutes of the first half, we only dominated 35 minutes of the first half... So you do the math... But it just flet like we could have scored a second goal during our very good period of play in the first half and it made me really hopeful and I expected more. But then Zlatan went out and our attacks on the Spaniards' half of the field just died out.

    I just have to say something about the referee because while he didn't give the Spaniards a perhaps well deserved penalty in the end of the first half he did give them a lot of free kicks that were just plain ridiculous (they just threw themselves on the ground every time a Swede blowed on them...) and didn't give us a lot of free kicks that we did deserve so the referee didn't do his job last night, but not just to sweden's disadvantage so it's not fair to blame him. Plus we were being totally dominated once the second half started.

  4. Hairy, perhaps it's good you skipped the first half, since it sounds like they played 50 minutes? (35 + 15) Maybe you need to go longer to give two below average teams enough scoring chances--kind of like a 60 minute adult rec league hockey game!

  5. As an independent american, and possibly the only american on the west coast that got up in the middle of the damn night to watch the entire game, I have to agree a bit with Hairy on his analysis of "the better team" winning. I think with Ibrahimovidknafhlkfg still in the game you had a fair chance of winning. But Hairy said 'team', and y'all didn't play like it. Sure, the Spaniards were takin' dives and Sweden wasn't, but they we're playing as a team more than the Swedes did in the end, and I think thats why they won. Which in a very literal sense makes them the better team.

    Just my two sense. Down with Russia.

  6. Just a total different team without Zlatan. He is simply amazing and even when he's not scoring goals he's attracting all the attention of the other team...not to mention Sweden was without Wilhelmsson who I think makes brilliant runs, and Alexandersson, the entire right side of their lineup!
    I was pulling hard for Sweden but at best they would've been fortunate to get one point vs Spain and to say they deserved 3 points isnt being objective.
    If you were a Spanish supporter you would point to the official statistics from the game. Spain had 10 shots on goal to Swedens 2....63% possession to 37% and 7 corners to 0 for Sweden. None of that matters now because all they need is a draw vs Russia and they are through!
    Robban-Why isnt Kallstrom playing more? I would think he would be an automatic choice.

  7. I had just written a post about the same topic myself and to my surprise I agreed with you a lot.

    Even here it's not commented about the second foul which should have been awarded by another penalty kick to Spain. A Swede touched the ball with his hand in the penalty area and saved a possible goal. The commentator said only that 'it was lucky for us that the referee didn't see that'. That's fair play?

    Has Sweden a great team out there if it's hanging by a thread called Zlatan? Does one man make any team great? I don't see any other really good players there. Henke is a tired old man.

    Sweden isn't yet out of the game. So it's not the end of the world. Instead I feel bad for Czech more, it was pretty tough for them in the end. And now they are out.

  8. John, I said "the Spaniards did dominate the whole second half and about 15 minutes of the first half, we only dominated 35 minutes of the first half" so I have no idea how you got that to be 50 minutes, if you had bothered to read what I wroe properly you would have seen that I actually added 10 minutes and not drew aay 40 minutes. So your sarcasm leaves me uneffected.

    Of course I was wrong, though - a match 90 minutes, I meant 30 minutes and not 35 when I talked about Sweden's good period.

    And to everyone else, I also think Spain was the overall better team. I did say they dominated the 15 first minutes and the ccomplete second half and that once Ibra was out we just couldn't get past the Spanish defenders, or hardly keep the ball in the team for longer than 15 seconds. So, yes Spain was the better team and I also said that 2-1 to Spain was a pretty fair result but it just felt like we could have gotten more than one goal during our good period because we played really good then.

  9. a good discussion all around. I'm going to stand by my comments though that sweden didn't deserve to win. although I would have liked to see a win just because spain really chapped my ass but so it goes.

    I think smek bring sup a good point when he questions the depth and skill of Sweden as a team. without Zlatan, who I think a lot of people would have to put up in the top ranks of best players in the world right now, is out of the game, Sweden struggles. And considering he is hobbling around most of the time that doesn't bode well for a long run for Sweden in this tournament. or for that matter in the future if the players around him don't start stepping up considering the aging larsson and ljungberg.

  10. Lets be fair, anything past the quarterfinal stage would be beyond anyones wildest dreams right now. if Sweden finished second in the group they would face the Netherlands in the Q-final...I really dont think anyone wants to play the Orange machine right now.
    Robban, Smek or any other Swedish fan in the know, I have two questions...
    1. Why arent we seeing more of Kallstrom ?
    2. Sweden is the oldest team in Euro 08 in terms of average age so the future looks a little rough maybe? there young talent to get excited about?

  11. Hairy Swede - I agree with you, they were the better team most of the match. I'm just saying that we also dominated them part of the game.

    Travis - I like your first question.

    I love Källström - he has a magnificent shot, especially long range, he has pretty good overall technique, pretty creative and he is very good at passing long cross balls. The answer why he isn't playing is Lagerbäck... He chooses Daniel Andersson from Malmö FF instead because he is better defensively seen and therefore fits better in Lagerbäck's coward-tacticts. it has to be mentioned though, that Källström and Svensson has been Lagerbäck's first choices for the central midfield most of the qualification for this Euro and in the friendlies we've played (for example, the one against Brazil). This is probably mostly due to Linderoth's injury.

    To your second question my answer is definitely: Yes, there is definitely young talent. The answer tp why we see very little of it in the national A-team is again... Lagerbäck. He is known for being very reluctant to letting in young talent into the national squad and instead relying on experience. he always does that and this Euro is no exception. Although he has let from SOME young talent this Euro, for example Sebastian Larsson, Fredrik Stoor, Markus Rosenberg (don't know his age but I think he is pretty young) and.... That's pretty much it, really... Young talents that I would like to see playing for Sweden in these big tournaemnets include Kennedy Bakircioglu, Marcus Berg, Behrang Safari, Mattias Concha, Rasmus Lindgren etc. So much wasted talent...

  12. I watched (almost) all of the Turkey v. Czech match yesterday and it had the power and excitement to melt even the most American of hearts to soccer. Did you catch any of it, Hairy?

  13. Robban--my guess is that you were unaffected by my sarcasm because YOU didn't read what I wrote--let's review--"Hairy, perhaps it's good you skipped the first half, since it sounds like they played 50 minutes? (35 + 15)"--this sentence says that the first half was 50 minutes which is in fact what you indicated--regardless--far too much time already spent on this topic.

  14. Oh, and then the U.S. beat the Little Sisters of the Blind (er, Barbados) 8-0 in their first World Cup qualifier... go soccer!

  15. When discussing this game we have to remember the background. This is David versus Goliath.

    Spain is a country of 40 million people and great conditions for playing football. Sweden is a small country of 9 million, where it snows a lot of the time, making it hard to play football.

    Last time I checked, the Spanish league was ranked the best in the world. That’s right, the best league in the entire world. The Swedish one was ranked 28th in Europe.

    Spain has so many great players that they can have players like Fabregas and Xabi Alonso on the bench. In fact, every single player in the whole squad plays for the European top clubs. In the Swedish team there are very few “star players”. Some players are getting old, some play in minor leagues, some are struggling with injuries etc. Sweden has to use what they’ve got.

    It’s not fair to expect that Sweden should outplay Spain. But even though the Spanish have better players on almost (?) all positions, Sweden had 1-1 in the 92nd minute. It was not because of brilliant individual skills, but it was accomplished by really hard work in defence, good coaching and a great amount of team spirit. This time it didn’t last all the way though.

  16. snefald you're right to point out the inherent advantages Spain has over Sweden. If anything it just points out how much Spain underachieves in major tournaments and shows you how strong Sweden is as a sporting country.
    I have limited research to back this up but is there another country in the world around the population of Sweden that produces as many elite level athletes???
    Sweden is often in the top 20 medal count at both the Sumer and Winter Olympics....they have world hockey stars, world fotbol stars, Carolina Kluft! 6 golfers (males and female) in the world top 50 etc. Impressive!
    For a country of nine million Sweden more then holds their own in the world of sports!

  17. You're right. Sweden does pretty well for a small country. It's natural that only the greatest indieviduals become stars here. It would be almost stupid to expect to form a whole team of Swedish world class talents in any sports. Especially in football. The same applies to Finland, which has only 5 million people and the Winter is even colder :)

    And behold, no one still comments on a Swedish player touching the ball with a hand in penalty area. No matter who dominates the game; if you touch the ball, it's over. Usually. Maybe you all looked the other way, conveniently. Well, enough of teasing. Speculating is always fun. Afterwards too.

  18. The most interesting game is going to be if Sweden wins against Russia. If we win, we'll meet the Netherlands in the semi-finals (?)... and have any of you watched the Netherlands games? They're amazing... We're gonna get our ass handed to us.

  19. Oh dear...
    Sweden could actually win Russia on a good day. I'm not too impressed by Russia's playing although I bet my 10 kronor on their victory of the whole tournament. Bad investment :)

    If Holland doesn't win the whole Euro08, it would be SO WRONG! Well, life isn't fair and football is part of it. Big time, sometimes.

    Hairy, a new post to cover more comments on this? We're outside the topic already, pretty badly so.

  20. Actually, i dont see it that way.

    If we get through with this and meet Holland in the quaters we'll have a big chance, truthfully.
    Has everyone forgotten how good Holland did vs us the last time they faced us?
    im pretty sure they much much rather face Russia again than us just because of the last time. And then if we do manage to down holland we will have even bigger reasons to take down spain. And then Germany(maybe?).


    I did wish though that Sebastian Larsson would fill in for chippen the last game, hopefully he will do a good job today.