Euro 2020 preview, Group E – Sweden: Frida Fagerlund on what to expect from the Blagult
Our Matchday Squad will cover every nation at the Euros
For Euro 2020, we’ve assembled 24 expert journalists to give you the latest insight and tips on every team throughout the tournament.
Here, journalist Frida Fagerlund gives us her take on Sweden…
Give us an overview of your team’s chances at Euro 2020
Proceeding from the group stage will probably not be an issue for this Sweden team but what happens after is harder to predict. They could potentially face England in the last 16, if Gareth Southgateʼs men decide to dodge a bullet and finish Group D runners-up to make life a bit easier.
Everything beyond the last-16 must be seen as a huge success for Janne Andersson’s players depending on what opponent awaits. At the same time, three years ago in Russia ”Blagult” surprised everyone by reaching the quarter-finals.
Since then players like Alexander Isak and Dejan Kulusevski have matured and are set to influence the attacking play with the likes of Emil Forsberg and Viktor Claesson. The main concern has to do with the defence and whether it is as solid as it was at the World Cup in 2018. Judging from some of their latest performances, this might not be the case.
What would you say are your teamʼs major strengths?
The collective. Historically Sweden are usually hard to break down and rarely collapse defensively. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is ruled out due to injury but there are still some quality players up front.
Alexander Isak has now established himself as one of the most exciting attacking talents and Emil Forsberg looks almost a certainty to be a key in terms of the creativity in the midfield. And donʼt forget about Dejan Kulusevski of Juventus.
Overall, there is a great mix between “old” and young in the squad with some big leaders such as Sebastian Larsson.
And any weaknesses?
The full-backs are far from the best getting forward and lack some pace. There is also a question mark regarding who will accompany Victor Lindelof at centre-back. It could be either one of Rangersʼ Filip Helander or Marcus Danielson who plays in the Chinese Super League.
The captain Andreas Granqvist – who impressed next to Lindelof at the World Cup – sealed a spot in the squad but hasn’t played a full game since November. Will this be enough to proceed beyond the last-16 this summer? They surely won’t throw in the towel just yet.
Give us the lowdown on your teamʼs star player?
He is a funny one, Emil Forsberg. In 2018 he was supposed to get his big move with an eye-catching performance at the World Cup. Three years later the 29-year-old is still at RB Leipzig and recently signed a new contract.
The last couple of seasons have seen a lot of setbacks but the midfielder showed what he can bring to this team in the World Cup qualifiers in March. His interesting role in the Bundesliga this season, where he sometimes floats to the centre of the pitch, can be a useful asset.
And tell us about a player from your team who could be a breakthrough star at this tournament?
Alexander Isak has been the future of Swedish football for a long time. After a great season with Real Sociedad – he scored double figures in La Liga – it is now time for the 21-year-old to prove himself on the international stage once and for all.
The centre-forward has looked lively in recent games for Sweden and is becoming more clinical in front of the goal. His improved defensive ability has pleased coach Janne Andersson.
How far do you think your team can go in this tournament?
If Robin Olsen puts in great performances in goal, the defenders don’t let anyone run in behind and the strikers provide a few goals, reaching the quarter-final won’t be mission impossible. Janne Anderssonʼs team will surely need some luck avoiding the toughest opponents in the last-16 but on a good day, Sweden are capable of beating most teams over one game.
The harmony within the group is strong, which can be an important factor during big tournaments. I wouldn’t count them out – lesson learned from the World Cup in 2018 – but they will really have to outperform themselves to top their achievement three years ago.
Easy one to finish with, who wins the tournament, and who do you think will be top scorer?
France beat Portugal in the final but Cristiano Ronaldo scoops the Golden Boot.