Captain Jiloan Hamad is looking to make home advantage count as Sweden bid to overcome a 1-0 deficit in their UEFA European Under-21 Championship play-off decider against Italy in Kalmar.
Sweden earned four wins and a draw in their five Group 2 home games in qualifying. They amassed three victories in as many games in Kalmar, scoring nine goals and conceding just one. "It will be a very good game," Malmö FF midfielder Hamad told UEFA.com. "We have been strong at home and played really good football in qualifying. Italy are a very good team but didn't scare us. Now we are 1-0 down and we have nothing to lose.
"There is always a good atmosphere in Kalmar," added Hamad as he looked ahead to the match at the Guldfageln Arena. "That's why they put the game there, I think. Maybe there won't be as many supporters as there were for the first leg in Italy, but there will be around 5,000 fans supporting us and it's very good for Sweden at U21 level. We have always achieved good results in Kalmar, and we like to play there."
Italy, meanwhile, hope to build on the lead they earned in Pescara courtesy of a first-half goal from Ciro Immobile. "We should have been more clinical in the first leg because we had plenty of chances to score more than one goal," the striker told UEFA.com. "But even if we were up 2-0 or 3-0, we would have had to play well in Sweden because football is strange, as we have seen in the past."
The Azzurrini notably failed to qualify for the 2011 finals after winning 2-0 in the home leg of their play-off against Belarus. Indeed, Genoa CFC striker Immobile feels a less emphatic first-leg scoreline might help his side to concentrate. "This way, we will be more focused," he said. "Not conceding at home was very good. Sweden will have to score two at home so they will have to leave us some space. However, I think we will play more or less as we did in Italy, as we are not very good at sitting back and counterattacking."
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.