Sweden v Poland: Euro 2020 – live!

Sweden v Poland: Euro 2020 – live!

23-Jun-2021 15:45:21 | Guardian

Mary Waltz emails on the same subject. “I completely understand why Sweden adopt their defensive style of play. Considering the talent pool they have to draw from it is the most logical decision to make, and they consistently perform well in international tournaments. But as a viewer I look forward to their matches in the same way that I look forward to going to the dentist: at best nothing happens and pain is always a possibility.”

I think this is going to be a good one, and as I said below, I really enjoyed the Spain game. But with Isak and Kulusevski ready and Anthony Elanga coming through, they may have to change their method over the next bit.

“Many Swedes have a problem with how Sweden are playing,” says Cornelis Kunkele. “That is why we sitting in our garden instead of looking at the TV.”

I’m surprised to hear that, but then I happily watch terrible games between teams I don’t support.

On ITV, they’re talking about England. I know! But they are! I swear! Gary Neville reckons if England play Germany, they should go three at the back – I’m not sure I get that because my general rule is that when playing a better team, or a team who know a system better, if you match them up you usually lose. Ashley Cole, meanwhile, thinks England need to be brave and I agree with that. They might win a game playing defensively, but I can’t see them winning four like that; the better teams will expect to score against them while fearing their attackers. It makes more sense to try and keep the ball, and keep it down the other end, than to invite pressure on a defence that is decent but nothing special.

Dalian Atkinson. What an absolute tragedy.

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I should also say that the final of the World Test Championship is fizzing to a close. Check that out here:

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“Any explanation for why Lindelof has looked suspiciously secure so far?” asks Christpher Dale. “Is it his sitting deeper in a more reactive team, and so being exposed to fewer dangerous situations without support? Or the absence of McFred?”

The first thing to say is that Lindelof might not be a brilliant player but he’s without doubt a good one and over a long period has done really well against far better players than, say ... Morata. Also, his main problem is that he’s not a great athlete, so can be outrun and outmuscled, but that’s less likely to happen in a less physical contest than you get in the Premeer League – especially, as you say, playing in a team who sit deep.

Tangentially, what a day of football this is. Let’s be real, there’s something not quite right about how few teams we’re actually losing, but there’s still plenty riding on the games because no team can afford to be passive even if all but two of the eight will probably go through.

“Count me as one of those who is looking forward to this game,” emails Matt Burtz, “mainly because I may or may not have wagered on Sweden to win the group prior to the tournament and would love to see them park the bus on the way to another 1-0 win via a penalty. It may not be pretty (okay, it’s definitely not pretty), but it’s worked thus far, and defensive solidity is nothing to shake a stick at. And as to the other game, it’s not as though Spain are scoring bucketfuls of goals themselves.”

I agree. I guess Spain are trying to play more expansively than Sweden, but teams can play however they like – they’re answerable only to their fans, and I doubt many Swedes have a problem with their style.

“Just a link to the goal that I (10 years old at the time) will always think of when Sweden are about to play Poland,” says Jesper Haglund.

Ah man, that takes me back. Great stuff.

Sweden also make one change, Robin Quaison replacing Marcus Berg in attack – Poland will have to think about the height of their line given the pace waiting to run beyond it. That’s a positive, enterprising change, though I was also hoping to enjoy some Dejan Kulusevski. Ultimately, though, Anderssen likes wide workers more than he likes wingers and he wants to top the group, so here we are.

Looking at those, I fancy Poland I must say. They make one change from the Spain game, Krychowiak returning from injury to replace Moder, and I’m really looking forward to seeing Zielinski, who will relish the opportunity to impose himself.

Sweden (a flat-pack 4-4-2): Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Danielson, Augistinsson, Larsson, Ekdal, Olsson, Forsberg; Quaison, Isak. Subs: Johnsson, Nordfeldt, Bengtsson, Berg, Svensson, Helander, Sema, Krafth, Claesson, Jansson, Kulusevski, Cajuste.

Poland (an unusual 3-2-4-1): Szczesny; Bereszynski, Glik, Bednarek; Krychowiak, Klich; Jozwiak, Swiderski, Zielinski, Puchacz; Lewandowski. Subs: Skorupski, Fabianski, Dawidowicz, Kedziora, Kozlowski, Linetty, Rybus, Placheta, Frankowski, Kownacki, Swierczak, Helik.

Email! “Now here’s an encounter I’m really not looking forward to,” writes Anis Aslaam. “Apart from England, Sweden have been one of those teams that have been painful to watch in this Euros: two banks of four with Alexander Isak the only goalscoring outlet. This team was built as a homage to Roy Hodgson-style football. Since Paulo Sousa’s football is anti-Hodgson, I’m hoping Poland open the floodgates first to provoke a Swedish reaction. However, I highly doubt that they’ll react considering they’ve qualified for the last 16. Despite that, if I was in Janne Anderson’s shoes, I’d try to get a result to meet the Czechs and not England or Belgium next.”

I actually really enjoyed Sweden’s performance against Spain – tournaments are a lot about those kinds of games – and I’ve really enjoyed Isak too. So let’s find out if he’s playing today...

Which of course brings us onto Stefan Effenberg, one of the most magnificent blighters this competition has ever seen. Just look at him!

I mentioned Don Hristo Stoichkov earlier on. Well, he was involved in one of my all-time favourite goals and perhaps the most iconic international goal of the 90s – but please feel free to let me know which one I’ve forgotten.

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I’m sad to report it’s been a miserable day in off-pitch activity.

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Who needs what:

Sweden are through and will top the group with a win, or if they draw and Slovakia do not beat Spain, or if Spain beat Slovakia by only one goal and score fewer goals than they do in the process.

Naturally, we’ve also got coverage of Slovakia v Spain.

Related: Slovakia v Spain: Euro 2020 – live!

One point from two games doesn’t say great things about Poland, but they were much improved from Slovakia to Spain and seem to fancy themselves to sort this.

Related: ‘You play for your life’ – Poland gear up for must-win game against Sweden

George Best, Ryan Giggs, Barry Ferguson – the footballing world is replete with epochal legends whose achievements on the international stage were compromised by the quality of their countrymen. Unlike those three, though, Robert Lewandowski’s have been good enough to help him reach a succession of major competitions; the problem has been what happens to them – and him – when they get there.

For almost a decade now, world football’s best and purest centre-forward has struggled to impose himself on defences inferior to those he victimises on a bi-weekly basis. His international record of 67 goals in 121 games is still pretty good, but racking numbers in qualifiers is the absolute height of whatever.

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