Match preview: Sweden to give France a fight
Published: 19 Jun 12 07:40 CET
Sweden may have no chance of qualifying for the Euro 2012 quarter-finals having lost both their games thus far but if France are expecting an easy ride into the last eight they are in for a shock on Tuesday.
The Swedish squad are all determined to bow out on a high after twice letting leads slip to lose 2-1 and 3-2 to co-hosts Ukraine and England respectively.
For coach Erik Hamren and the players the pride factor apart there are different things motivating them.
Hamren, who took over in 2009 after a successful club coaching career in Norway and Denmark, wants to come away with a win so as to be able to continue his project in developing the team into a more adventurous and technically capable side - defeat could bring an abrupt end to his dream and his tenure.
"Tuesday's match is important for Sweden and for other sides," said Hamren, an emotional character who accused some of his players of being cowards after the Ukraine loss.
"I want to see the same professionalism that the players have already shown here. We want to win the match.
"I believe that we can keep on working along the same lines and get closer to being the team that I want it to be.
"We have done many good things but the great teams know how to attract luck. We are not there yet."
However, Hamren said that he hadn't got a special speech prepared for motivating the players for the game but nevertheless he would say something.
"I will not need to motivate the players, maybe just help them a little." Hamren added that he was pleased with the manner in which the players had showed a desire to keep on progressing.
"The objective is to be happy after a match. We can be content with the way we have played, that is good, but we also want to be happy because we won.
"For that reason I am not going to just select someone for the sake of it against France.
"There will be changes, perhaps several," added Hamren, who will definitely be without injured first choice duo, striker Johan Elmander and midfielder Rasmus Elm.
Elmander, who came on as a substitute in the 2-1 defeat by co-hosts Ukraine and started the 3-2 loss to England, is still troubled by the foot injury he suffered playing for his club Turkish champions Galatasaray on the last day of the season.
"Elmander is not fit to play," said the 54-year-old coach.
"He is still suffering from the foot injury and given that nothing is at stake in terms of the match, I don't want to take a risk.
"I have too much respect for both him and his club.
"Elm has a thigh problem. Apart from that all of us are ready and motivated and eager to play the game."
A third loss will be a poor reward too for the extraordinary 15,000 or so fans who have come all the way from Sweden to support them and had to put up with some pretty basic living conditions on an unfinished campsite.
Swedish captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored in the Ukraine match but was also responsible for letting Andrei Shevchenko score the winning goal, said every players in the squad wanted to play against the French.
"You won't have a problem finding people who want to play," said Ibrahimovic, who has said he will continue to represent his country.
"We are all professionals and everyone is hungry to get some game time.
"We came here to qualify from the group and there is still one game to do something.
"There are a lot of players who are playing for their futures, either at club or international level."
While AC Milan star Ibrahimovic, who turns 31 in October, has pinned his colours to the Swedish cause others who have given long service will be looking to bow out with a memorable last performance.
Olof Mellberg (34, 117 caps), who scored Sweden's second against England, Anders Svensson (35, 127 caps) and probably Saudi Arabia-based winger Christian Wilhelmsson (32, 76 caps) will all call it a day after the French game, though, only the first two are likely to be on the pitch from the start.
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