Sweden 1 Ukraine 0: A Review
We won and what a way to win at that! Tobias Hysen, son of Sweden legend Glenn Hysen, beat the offside trap (by millimeters) late in stoppage time and with a light flick of the ball from Anders Svensson’s genial pass gave us the victory. To be fair to the Ukraine team though they put up a masterful fight and that the referee didn’t call offside on that final play must be winners luck. The question for the day after is: what did we really learn from all of this?
First enjoy the highlights!
The Ukraine, to belabor the point, is roughly the equivalent of Hungary who we are going to lock horns with in 22 days from now. The positive side of playing a tough away friendly (and from the highlights it didn’t always seem all that friendly) is that it gets us ready for the Battle of Budapest. Winning in Kiev without being able to call on the likes of Toivonen, Ibrahimovic, and Mellberg is no simple task. That makes a win so important for team morale. We also got a feeling for what it is going to be like should we make it to Euro 2012: that is we will be up against equal or better teams who are used to playing more of a possession game then we are. The last time we were in Budapest we were lucky enough to escape with a 2-1 win where Ibrahimovic scored in the last play of the game deep in stoppage time. The real story of the game was quite different though: we dominated the Hungarians from the first minute on in a manner of play that I haven’t seen very often with Sweden. That is exactly the kind of game we need to play this next time as well, all the time knowing that we can also defend should the home team get their offensive machine cranking.
The bad news against the Ukraine was that Bajrami injured himself and there is so far no word on how bad it is. If he manages to get in a groove over at Twente and not just sit on the bench, then there is no way that we cannot call on him. Sure Christian Wilhelmsson put in one of the better games of his Sweden career but will he be able to do that one more time? Bajrami and Ibrahimovic have played well together when they have gotten the chance. The question of left back is still a sore subject. Sure Wendt didn’t throw away his chances, but he is still not performing as well as when he plays for his club. If he can get off the bench at Mönchengladbach and put in some solid performances then I don’t see Hamren dropping him for Budapest.
Svensson and Källström have their names written in stone on the midfield positions and the real worry now is what to do with Toivonen, Elmander, and Sebastian Larsson. Do we push Elmander out on the wing where his speed can threaten Hungary, or do we leave him behind Ibrahimovic – a role he performed well with last night? Toivonen is better with the ball, but he is in no way a winger at least not from what I have seen. Sebastian Larsson didn’t get all that much done in the time he was given, but to be fair to him the Premier League hasn’t started yet. What about Hysen then? He did score the winner after all and he can play on the wing as well. I don’t think he has made it into the starting eleven by any means, but along with Wilhelmsson I see him as a strong candidate for back up on the left wing.
Albin Ekdal got his first minutes in the national team last night and that was about time if you ask me. He has spent three years in Italy now and it was high time to see what he can contribute. Of course he played out of position and at a point in the game when the tempo had already decreased. If he can find a good club to play for this season then we might be seeing more of him in the national team and very soon at that. Wernbloom got some playing time, but did just enough to show why Källström has won back his spot: he was unsure and didn’t really do all that much going forward. Andreas Isaksson proved his mettle as starting keeper and I think he managed to shut up the doubters after this solid performance.
Hamren is doubtlessly aware of all these things and I imagine that even as I am writing this he is going over video footage of the game and analyzing what worked and what didn’t work. He knows how important the Hungary game is going to be and that it will probably make or break our run at Euro 2012. Sure we beat Hungary at home a year ago 2-0, but this is away now and that is always a different story. The Hungarians are also on a three game undefeated run: they beat San Marino, Luxembourg, and Iceland.
I am not all that worried but there is still the need to be cautious. The Hungarians are talented and will play for the win. Then again that might just be what we need anyway: another battle to prove our worth.
Predicted Starting line-up against Hungary as of this moment:
Lustig, Mellberg, Majstorovic, Wendt
Elmander, Toivonen, Bajrami
Apart from the two full backs(Both had a relatively poor game), every single player had a good game.
According to UEFA.com, his stats are even better than Sneijder. He has to be in the starting line-up for sure.
Guidetti also put in 2 goals as our u-21s beat Holland 3-0….Can’t wait for his first call up to the senior side.
single player had a good game.According to football2011, his stats are even better than Sneijder. He has to be in the starting line-up for sure.
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