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Sweden 0 Trinidad And Tobago 0


yawnsie
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World Cup Group B

Sweden vs Trinidad and Tobago

Saturday 10th June

Westfalenstadion, Dortmund

On the 10th of June, most peoples’ attention will be on England’s opening World Cup match against Paraguay. Beer will be flowing, Three Lions and World in Motion will be blaring from every pub and car in the country, and tosspots nationwide will be painting their faces and donning their retro Italia 90 shirts. Amid all the carnage and indignity that will surely follow another hesitant England performance, our other Group B opponents, Trinidad and Tobago and Sweden, will begin their own campaigns.

T&T (as they shall be hence force known, to save me from repetitive strain injuries), were the last team to qualify for the finals, after winning a playoff against Bahrain. Having made it to their first finals, the Caribbean side will provide the BBC and ITV with somebody to patronise. Expect to hear such absolutely positively non-cliched remarks as ‘They’re tactically naive,’ ‘They play with smiles on their faces,’ and maybe even a ‘They’ve brought the carnival with them to Germany.’ We’re in Malibu advert territory here.

Looking at the squad, T&T fit the minnow category. For such an exotic-sounding nation, their line-up will have a very familiar look to it, as most of their players are currently starring in the English and Scottish leagues. Their most high-profile players are probably Rangers centre-back Marvin Andrews, and our old friend, Dwight ‘Work-Rate’ Yorke, who was last seen in club football gleefully lifting an Australian championship trophy that looked uncannily like a toilet seat. Port Vale’s scouser Chris Burchall, T&T’s first white player in sixty years, is a winger for his club but will line up in central midfield for his country. (I use the term lightly. Well, we robbed Owen Hargreaves from Canada, didn’t we?)

T&T tend to line up in a 4-5-1 formation, with Yorke either dropping into midfield or linking up behind the lone striker, who is likely to be either Coventry’s fantastically-named Stern John or Southampton youngster Kenwyne Jones. The weak leak in their side has been said to be Wrexham’s lanky defender Dennis Lawrence. The 6’6 man will be a danger from set pieces – he headed the goal that beat Bahrain last November – but a season of midtable League 2 action is not the best preparation for a World Cup.

T&T’s recent form has been patchy: although they won 3-2 against club team Austria Vienna, they suffered a 2-1 reverse against phoneless wonder John Toshack’s Wales. Craig Bellamy didn’t play and Robbie Savage is believed to have been lying down in a darkened room with his eyes shut and his fingers in his ears until the match was over. Since then, the Soca Warriors have lost 3-1 to Slovenia and 3-0 to the Czech Republic.

Sweden are much more well-known. They reached the final in 1958, and finished third in USA 94; our old friend, Martin ‘Work-Rate’ Dahlin was their star at that tournament. They’re also famous as the nation of ‘seven million skiers and hammer throwers who spend half their lives in darkness’ that cuddly columnist Jeff Powell believes England sold our ‘birth-right’ down the fjord to when we appointed famous Monty Burns lookalike Sven. We also haven’t beaten the buggers since 1968.

Despite their high hopes and pedigree, all has not been well in the Swedish camp of late. They were booed off after a disappointing 0-0 draw against Scandinavia’s whipping-boys, Finland (to get some idea of Finland’s standing in the football world, Shefki Kuqi is one of their star players), and drew with both Saudi Arabia and Jordan. They also got thumped 3-0 by Ireland in Steve Staunton’s first game in charge; Steven Reid, Rovers’ very-own David Blaine-Bobby Charlton hybrid, pulled the strings in midfield. There are those who believe that Sweden’s star players are out of form and, in some cases, becoming too old for the top level. A 1-1 draw with Chile on Saturday has done little to convince those critics otherwise.

Sweden generally play an attacking 4-4-2 system. Their midfield in particular has a lot more flair than past Swedish sides. Anderlecht’s Christian Wilhelmsson is a creative winger who can play on both flanks, and Football Manager players will be aware of Rennes’ Kim Kalstrom. Upfront, Henrik Larsson showed his class in the Champions League final, and is expected to link up with Ibrahimovic, who is a handful (think Peter Crouch but much better at shooting, heading and standing up) but has not impressed for Juventus this season, despite all the (alleged) help he’s had from Serie A referees. Sweden’s biggest worry for this game, and the entire tournament, is the prospect of losing two of their key players to injury: defender Teddy Lucic and jeans model Freddie Ljunberg. There’s also a question mark over the right-back spot, and coach Lars Lagerback has expressed concern at how many chances his team allowed opponents during their qualifying round.

So how will this game shape up? Bigger teams traditionally try to feel their way into tournaments, and Sweden may see T&T as an easy start to their World Cup. On paper, you’d expect them to get it, but T&T will be flush with the pride of representing their country for the first time at the finals, and many of the Falkirk and St. Johnstone players who made up their side will hope to catch the attention of scouts from bigger clubs. (For further reference see: Gerard Houllier, the entire Senegal squad from 2002) Sweden’s recent inability to beat the likes of Jordan and Saudi Arabia suggests that the Nordic side are not in the best form. T&T might be able to frustrate them, but it’s hard to see where their goals will come from: it’s unlikely that Yorkie will bother making the arduous trip from midfield to the Swedish box too often.

If T&T could nick a goal early on, adrenalin and national pride may carry them to a draw or even a shock win, but Sweden will probably be too strong for them. I’m going for an unimpressive 2-0 win to the hammer-throwers.

TRINDAD & TOBAGO

Population:1,305,000 (Trinidad & Tobago are the smallest ever nation, population-wise, to qualify for the finals.)

World Cup Record: Have never qualified before 2006

Most caps: Angus Eve – 118 caps between 1994 and present day.

Top goalscorer: Stern John – 64 goals in 90 appearances.

Betting: 2000/1 to win the tournament (some bookies, like William Hill, won’t even give a price on this!) T&T are 2/5 to finish bottom of the group, and 1/50 not to qualify for the 2nd round.

SWEDEN

Population: 9,041,000

World Cup Record: Quarter finalists in 1934; Fourth in 1938; Third in 1950; Runners-up in 1958; Third Place in 1994.

Most caps: Tomas Ravelli – 143 caps between 1981 and 1997.

Top goalscorer: Sven Rydell – 49 goals in 43 appearances (!) in the 1920s and 30s.

Betting: 50/1 to win the tournament. (Could be worth an each-way punt at that price) Sweden are 17/1 to finish bottom of the group and 2/5 to qualify for the 2nd round.

These two sides have met just once before, in November 1983. Sweden won 5-0.

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1-0 Sweden. Sweden haven't had the best of warm-ups for the tournament and i can see them getting a bit complacent but coming out with the all so important result.

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While the three most recent friendlies (Finland, Chile, Ireland) have been with the "real" team (Although several regulars didn't feature against Finland and Ireland), the friendlies against the Saudis and Jordan were with domestic-based players only, and thus aren't really any indication of form. The two games featured 5 members of the WC squad, 3 of whom are likely starters, 1 backup and the 3rd choice keeper. I also wouldn't pay too much attention to friendlies, but there are some worrying signs, not least the fact that in the last qualifying campaigns (EC 2004, WC 2006) we've actually not gone undefeated through them, which we did in 2000 and 2002. A meaningless loss vs Latvia in 2003 and two 1-0 losses vs Croatia. Also, a few years back our strength was defensively, and we looked clueless offensively. Now we're much better going forward, but at the cost of some defensive stability. Remember that while we didn't perform well in the friendlies, we pasted Iceland 4-1 away during qualifying for example. It's not been all bad results lately.

Strengths: The attack. Zlatan didn't have the best of seasons, but there's no doubting his talent. And Henrik Larsson turned a Champions League final around with his two assists, and looks ten years younger than he really is. Two brilliant players, backed up by the reliable Marcus Allbäck who has a good record for Sweden (23 goals in 55 games). Fredrik Ljungberg is also, as you all probably know, a threat too. Another strength is the workrate of the side.

Weakness: The right side of the pitch, mainly right back. I'll list the potential lineups below so you can see for yourselves. The problem here is that Niclas Alexandersson might be the best player in the Swedish league, but he's not a right back. He says so himself, his manager says so. Mikael Nilsson was converted to an emergency right back for Euro 2004, and now has it as his primary position. But he has been out injured a lot this year, and had very little match training before being selected for the WC. He's also a very poor tackler.

Likely lineup (4-1-3-2)

Isaksson; Alexandersson, Lucic, Mellberg ©, Edman; Linderoth; Wilhelmsson, Svensson, Ljungberg; Larsson, Ibrahimovic

What could change is Nilsson instead of Alexandersson, and Källström intead of Wilhelmsson. If Källström does play the question is which side Ljungberg and Svensson play on. Ljungberg can play on both (Played centrally for Halmstad, on the right for Arsenal, on the left for Sweden), but he prefers the left for Sweden. Svensson is a central midfielder, but has played on the left for Elfsborg this season.

My prediction for this game: 3-0 to Sweden. And I expect England to win the group with 7pts, ahead of Sweden on goals scored. England - Sweden is always a draw :D

Oh, most importantly; Swedes are always at their best when it really matters, and like Rovers have a combative squad that thrive on the competitive nature in games. I expect us to shake off any problems from the friendlies, and having T&T in the opener is great.

Edited by Lathund
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While the three most recent friendlies (Finland, Chile, Ireland) have been with the "real" team...

Bugger, I knew we had a Swedish Rovers fan on this board, but I couldn't for the life of me remember who it was! Sorry Lathund. I hope I didn't get anything about your team too wrong!

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Nils Eric Johansson didn't make it into the squad? What a disgrace..... he could've solved any right back problem - albeit very badly,

:tu:

I wouldn't dismiss Trinidad and Tobago so easily. Ive seen a few interviews with their Dutch coach and he sounds like a man who knows what he's doing - and he did know what he was doing to help them qualify.

Still thinking Sweden will win, though.

Edited by rover6
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First-choice keeper Andreas Isaksson suffered a concussion during training yesterday after Kim Källström's shot hit him in the face, and he'll miss the game against T&T, and possibly against Paraguay as well. I'm not worried about the T&T game, but I want him in the other two games as he really is a great keeper. Surprised he's still at Rennes.

Now either Rami Shaaban or Jon Alvbåge will play, with a grand total of two caps between them. I'd have wanted IFK Göteborg keeper Bengt Andersson in the squad, because his age (39) nonwithstanding, he's still a brilliant keeper.

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We got last minute condidtional tickets for this one. Looking forward to a festive atmosphere as we're seeing a lot of Swedes and met up with some Trinidaddies at the train station yesterday.

1-1.

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0-0 A great resusult for T & T , Sweeden dont look the side they were 4 years ago

Disagree, especially first half was decent, the Larsson / Zlatan pairing looked good. Puzzling to see Lagerback bring Allback in again though.. I can see Sweden beat England, even with Erik Edman at left back.

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:D

Good one!

Sweeden were ###### poor! England should beat T&T on Thursday meaning we qualify, which will mean we can rest a few players against Sweeden and should still have enough to get the point (if needed) to top the group.

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Tbh we weren't poor, it was the finishing (And generally all play inside their penalty box) that let us down. The rest was fine. In a way it's not unexpected, we're still not very good at trying to break down sides, we do better against better teams for some reason. And since neither Paraguay or England impressed me I think this is still very much doable.

And what's with English people writing "Sweeden" all the time? ;) I never see it from other people, but a lot of Englishmen do it, even when it's spelled correctly several times in the same thread. And skip the "this is not school!!!! yadda yadda" crap.

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Agree Lathund, Sweden produced enough chances to win 4-0, but a good game from Shaka Hislop and poor finishing cost you. You should have had more variety in your attempts though, all the attacks came through the middle. Källström has to replace Linderoth for the next game, his left foot and overall ability can be a real asset. Linderoth is injured anyway, perhaps?

I can't for the life of me understand why English fans are so confident after their narrow win against Paraguay, T&T will be a handful with the quality England showed ;)

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If he's replacing anyone it's Svensson. Against a team like T&T Linderoth seems a bit "useless", but against better teams that'll attack more (England and Paraguay) he's great. He's honestly one of the best defensive midfielders in this tournament. Extremely underrated. Positioning and tenacity second to none. Without him the likes of Gerrard and Lampard will get too much time on the ball. If Linderoth is fit, he plays. And I wouldn't want it any other way.

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