Sweden anticipate shenanigans as Ireland seek to defy the odds

Sweden v Republic of Ireland
Gamela Ullevi, 5:30 p.m. – Live RTÉ2

Broad brushstrokes paint Gothenburg and the Swedish way of life as utopian. Superior to Dublin’s grubby old town and housing crisis, the city is as efficient as it is incredibly expensive.

Similar characteristics apply to their phenomenal national football team, Blågult.

Perhaps the residue of Sonia O’Sullivan’s superhuman feat of 1995, when she won world championship gold in the 5,000 meters at the stadium right next to this venue, will inspire a comparable moment. . Because beating Sweden would be a sensational result.

It’s possible. Head coach Peter Gerhardsson said it well when he said that we are all “human beings”. That’s unquestionably true, with no one stopping to wonder if Adidas’ marketing campaign, which has the Swedish shirt label providing details on how to beat them, is seen as bald arrogance by medal winners. Olympic silver.

All very un-Irish and yet, as Gerhardsson pointed out, the aim is to erase an outdated notion of the Swedish underdog.

“They are a very good group and they are very good human beings,” he said of his own players. “It’s quite easy to be a coach for them because they have the ambition to be the best at all times and they respect each other.

“It doesn’t matter what team we play with, even Georgia [15-nil] in the last game, the preparation for us for this match was exactly the same as the preparation to play against the United States.

“In training you can see they are doing everything 100%. I know they are fighting for places in the team for the European Championship this summer, but they are humble towards each other, they help each other, they train each other and that is very important to me. as a coach.

Fair enough, but the question was about the new shirt. A chance to be proud before the fall?

“I think everyone knows these things and if they don’t, buy the shirt and you can see it.”

The local media are laughing with delight.

“Each country has well-scouted teams and players,” explained Gerhardsson. “I don’t like being an outsider. I don’t like people talking about liking being an outsider.

Underdogs

“You like to be a winner. When you win, you start something, and it’s more like something you’ve done. If you are favorite, if you have a good ranking, it does not mean that you will win the next game. But I think it’s better. Also, the possibility of winning the match is better if you have a high ranking and are the best team.

No arrogance, just facts, as Sweden are undefeated for the past two years in addition to the disastrous Olympic final against Canada.

“Someone said it’s the Swedish style we like to be the underdogs but we shouldn’t talk about the people, we’re from Sweden, but we’re human beings. These players, I think they like to win , they like to be favourites. [favourites] in their clubs and they can also be part of the national team.

Fridolina Rolfö loves winning for Barcelona, ​​and others love winning for Juventus, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain. That’s why a draw would add to the Irish men’s best qualifying results on foreign soil.

In fairness, that looks beyond Ireland, even with Katie McCabe in stunning form for Arsenal and Denise O’Sullivan becoming one of American football’s marquee midfielders. But there is a formula for causing massive upheaval that Birmingham City’s cohort of Irish players, led by the towering Louise Quinn, employed as they left the English Super League through the trap door.

“If you can try to stop their best players from doing what they’re good at,” Quinn said, “and that could literally pull them to the ground, making sure you shut them down quickly, making sure Caroline Seger can’t turn around and slap the ball at [Stina] Blackstenius, it’s a bit won “.

Getting stuck in Sweden is guaranteed by any McCabe-led team, but boot and bite won’t be enough.

“As long as we have prepared mentally, and obviously physically, it will be a game like the last,” Seger said of October’s 1-0 win at Tallaght. “We always want the referee to protect our players and I hope she does a good job tomorrow.”

Ireland coach Vera Pauw gave an optimistic response to the mere suggestion of scheming.

“I don’t know what they were talking about; there is no opponent in this position who gives so few free kicks,” said Pauw. “We know we play with passion, but we always play by the rules.”

burning spotlight

Pauw played down any chances of depriving Sweden of a clean Group A sweep and qualification for next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, with a complicated play-off course for the finalists . September’s fixtures against Finland at home and Slovakia away are key for the Dutchman’s tenure to be seen as a success.

Its selection policy is under the spotlight. Sweden will ruthlessly attack whoever replaces the injured trio Savannah McCarthy, Diane Caldwell and Megan Campbell in left central defense or the 3-5-2-1 system will be temporarily abandoned. Trade midfielder Megan Connolly is rumored to have practiced defense this week.

Big calls either way, but judging by recent Finnish and Italian goals against Sweden, this is the same area that Ireland could potentially reveal weakness.

More importantly, can Pauw position McCabe and O’Sullivan closer to the Swedish goal? Will she ever trust Liverpool striker Leanne Kiernan? Can Brighton starting goalkeeper Megan Walsh’s obvious appeal to Everton reserve Courtney Brosnan finally come true? How will Ireland cope with this finely tuned and certainly not arrogant Swedish Volvo?

As the crazy Adidas would say, the impossible is nothing.

Sweden (possible): Lindahl (Atletico Madrid); Glas (Bayern Munich), LLestedt (Paris Saint-Germain), Eriksson (Chelsea), Andersson (Chelsea); Angeldahl (Manchester City), Rolfo (Barcelona), Seger (Rosengard, c); Hurtig (Juventus), Blackstenius (Arsneal), Schough (Rosengard).

Republic of Ireland (possible): M Walsh (Brighton and Hove Albion); Fahey (Liverpool), Louise Quinn (Birmingham City), Connolly (Brighton and Hove Albion); Ziu (Shelbourne), Littlejohn (Aston Villa), O’Sullivan (North Carolina Courage), McCabe (Arsenal, c); Finn (City of Birmingham), Lucy Quinn (City of Birmingham); Payne (Florida State Seminoles).

Arbitrator: Iuliana Dementrescu (Romania)

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