Eight teams are still standing at the World Cup and a month back, if I told you Sweden would be one of those teams, you’d have laughed in my face. Well, Sweden is one of the eight teams left and are in the quarterfinals of a World Cup for the first time since USA 1994 when Brolin and a young Henrik Larsson guided the country to a third-place finish.
Can this side repeat the heroics of that side? Why not. Why not. They’ve achieved so much until now and there is no reason why they cannot beat the English on Saturday. If they put in a repeat of their performances, they’ll be in the last four, no questions asked.
The win over Switzerland, a 1-0 win courtesy of a deflected goal from Emil Forsberg, represented everything about Sweden at the World Cup so far. A strong defence, an average attack that finally gets what it deserved. If you missed the game, believe me when I say Sweden could have been sitting on a 4-0 lead at halftime. They lacked the finishing but a third World Cup cleansheet in four games bailed them out. Robin Olsen was rarely troubled in goal and whatever came through the defence was comfortable for the Copenhagen goalkeeper.
Janne Andersson could not speak in his post-match conference and was overcome with emotion. He’s got this team so far. So much credit goes to that man. He must have been pleased to see Emil Forsberg finally stutter into life after a below average World Cup for Sweden’s best player. Forsberg had a great game and Michael Lang, the Swedish right back had a troublesome night. His day went from bad to worse when he was sent off for a foul on Martin Olsson in the final minute of the game. The Swedes will be hopeful that Forsberg carries the same form into the next game.
Sweden’s defence once again stood firm. Granqvist and Lindelof were the walls of an unbreachable fortress and the walls held firm when the usually neutral Swiss laid siege to the goal after going down a goal. They could not breach the two defenders and for all the pressure on the goal, they barely had anything to show for it, in terms of going close. They had to resort to shots from far and Olsen would not mind facing them all day long. Lindelof shaded his defensive senior Granqvist on the night for once and once again looked like a defender who ply’s his trade at a club like Manchester United. As a United fan, I was extremely pleased with Lindelof on the night.
The magical journey is not over yet. After the Swiss lead by Shaqiri and Xhaka were repelled, Sweden faces arguably the sternest test so far – the English. Who better than Sweden to tell the lads that it’s Not Coming Home. The striker with the most goals Kane faces a top two defence in the tournament in Sweden. It promises to be an enthralling game and Sweden have more than a reasonable chance to go through. A lot depends on Janne Andersson’s game plans on Saturday and do not be surprised if it’s the Sverige celebrating at the end of the game.
Until then we marvel at how 24 men have become living legends worshipped by an entire nation.