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Sweden find their stride too late

Published: Wednesday 20 June 2012, 10.26CET
Five goals conceded over the first two games meant Sweden were already out going into their final match, but a send-off win against France provided a gratifying way to bow out.
by Sujay Dutt
from Kyiv

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Published: Wednesday 20 June 2012, 10.26CET

Sweden find their stride too late

Five goals conceded over the first two games meant Sweden were already out going into their final match, but a send-off win against France provided a gratifying way to bow out.

Sweden's EURO fate was sealed after two matches. But the lingering memory will not be the narrow defeats by Ukraine and England that ensured they would finish bottom of Group D but rather the convincing 2-0 win – that could well have been even bigger – against France with which they bade farewell to Ukraine.

It leaves a sweeter taste than four years ago, when Sweden had a quarter-final chance going in to their third match but were overwhelmed by Russia. What was important about the win against France was not only the result but the way it was achieved – by possessing the ball and playing an attacking game: Erik Hamrén's vision for the future.

In a nutshell
Hamrén has an expansive football philosophy and has said he would rather win matches 3-2 than 1-0. But even he acknowledged that five goals conceded in the first two matches were too many.

High point
Hats off to the team for their attitude when they were eliminated. When Hamrén gave the players the option to take a day off, they all showed up for training. Then, in the final match, they swept aside a strong France side.

Key man
An obvious choice perhaps, but Zlatan Ibrahimović got two of Sweden's goals – one of them, his acrobatic volley against Les Bleus, a contender for goal of the tournament. With a bit more luck he could have scored more. The feeling persists that his role within the team could be harnessed to produce even more telling performances further down the line.

Hope for the future
Left-back Martin Olsson showed, against England in particular, that he has the qualities to become an asset both in defence and attack for Sweden.
 
Vital statistic
Five goals conceded in the two opening games was always too many and meant an early elimination.

Final word
"Without making mistakes you won't learn anything. We made mistakes, now we'll learn from them and come back even stronger."
Zlatan Ibrahimović after the defeat by England, before the 2-0 win against France.

Last updated: 05/12/13 4.37CET

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