Starting Eleven and final notes for Finland!
I have the official starting eleven for Sweden for this evening’s away game in Helsinki with the official starting time being 18:15 (Central European Time).
Sweden will appear in the following order:
Lustig, Majstorovic, Mellberg, Olsson
Larsson, Elmander, Wilhelmsson
It’s the same basic 4-2-3-1 that we have been driving with the entirety of the 2012 campaign. The major difference, and this is pretty major, is that Anders Svensson otherwise the Swedish midfield motor is starting a game of this magnitude on the bench. You can call that a gamble if you want, but the form that Rasmus Elm has been in this fall suggests otherwise. Hamren has taken a lot of criticism for switching his starting lineups so often and will continue to do so today if we tie or lose. The strange thing is though that everyone whined about Lagerbäck not changing enough. We kind of need to decide on one of those two or find some sort of mix. Elm is being given a big chance to show he is the future-I really hope he takes advantage of it!
I am extremely worried about two things tonight. First the defense has been awful at times this year and while that has been the case when Mellberg has been absent, that should not be the case when he is present! Mellberg is the anchor of the back four and while he is no longer a captain in this team, he is still a godfather of sorts. I haven´t decided which is worse: his bark or his bite (I think both are equally horrible). With Mellberg anchoring the back four, hopefully it will bring the game of Majstorovic back up to what it was two years ago. Martin Olsson gets his second start of the 2012 qualifiers and it’s really up to him to write his name all over the left back role. God knows we could use someone with attitude who can run up and down the field; yet also keep the Finnish wingers at bay.
Ola Toivonen made the bench and I have to be honest and say that I think that is the right thing to do. When the going gets tough, Toivonen doesn´t necessarily get going and until he does, he can sit on the bench and let Elmander show him how to run. This brings us to the second thing that I am really worried about: Ibrahimovic attitude. It’s going to be rainy and cold and nothing like the glories he is used to experiencing in the San Siro, but that is no excuse. Tonight we need him to show world class and be the leader we expect him to be.
Sweden is a better team; there is no real doubt in my mind about that. It’s an away game though and in those kinds of events bad things often happen. It would be lovely if get on the scoreboard early and then seal the deal with some time to find our rhythm. This game has to be won. Sure we have one more game, but that doesn´t mean much since it’s the Netherlands. Win today and we have survived our group!
Still it’s in our hands and there are plenty of teams who wish they had it that way.
I am going to stay optimistic and predict 3-1 for Sweden.
So let me see if I have this figured out…on Tuesday, if Portugal beats Denmark and Sweden ties Holland…Sweden will be best runner up and qualify automatically (they will both be equal on 16 points and have a +8 goal differential, but Sweden has more goals scored). Is that correct? seems like our easiest route to auto qualification, as a win over Holland is going to be nigh impossible.
Yeah Nate, that is about it. The thing is though that I am not even so concerned about the Netherlands game. The truth is they are a much better team and we don´t have what it takes at the moment to beat them. Now on the other hand they are missing a couple of players (but the backups are just as good) and they have already qualified so there is the hope that they don´t really try all that hard against us. This would be wonderful, but I don´t see it happening. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also banned from the Netherlands game and as he is out of shape at the moment I don´t mind that so much. Still I hope we give everything against the Netherlands and that some of the younger guys really seize their chance to go to the Euros!
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