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WORLDCUP

Sweden booed off after Finland draw

In their second to last match before heading off to the World Cup Finals in Germany, a largely second-string Swedish team only managed to draw 0-0 with Finland at the Ullevi stadium on Thursday.

But despite being booed off the pitch by a public disappointed not to have seen the likes of Fredrik Ljungberg, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Larsson, coach Lars Lagerbäck was satisfied with the performance.

“I understand the public’s reaction,” he said.

“But I want to pay tribute to Finland. They played extremely well in defence and shut down the options for us.”

Many among the Swedish starting eleven were playing for a place in the team which opens its World Cup campaign against Trinidad and Tobago on June 10th.

But Lagerbäck was left with more questions than answers after the game. An experiment with Niclas Alexandersson at right back produced an uncertain display, while Mikael Nilsson was ineffective as a winger.

“We can’t be satisfied with the way we played in the first half,” said Nilsson after the game, admitting that he felt more comfortable as a defender.

The pair swapped at half time but that did not appear to be the solution either.

Only Kim Källström in midfield showed any initiative, with one 45 metre pass slicing open the Finnish defence, only for Johan Elmander to miss the best opportunity of the game.

Captain Olof Mellberg was solid at the back but it was the lack of spark pushing forward from midfield that will have left Lagerbäck pondering his options.

Sweden’s final warm-up game is against Chile in Stockholm on June 2nd.

FOOTBALL

Swedish press hails ‘miracle in Berlin’

Sweden's stunning four-goal comeback to salvage a 4-4 draw against Germany in Berlin on Tuesday night prompted commentators to gush over what many considered an improbable footballing "miracle".

Swedish press hails 'miracle in Berlin'

After an hour of football, Sweden found themselves nursing a four-goal deficit and many fans wondered how bad the night would end.

But a beautiful goal off a header by captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 62nd minute sparked an unprecedented comeback for the Swedes, capped by Rasmus Elm’s game-tying goal in extra time, allowing the squad to leave the pitch with an unexpected draw against a team ranked second in the world.

“I’ve never watched a national team that was so totally outplayed then comeback and salvage a point,” crowed Expressen columnist Marcus Birro.

“A miracle. A total Miracle. With a capital M.”

Birro argued that Sweden’s footballers deserved “the Nobel Prize in everything”, before reflecting on whether Tuesday’s performance might prompt largely secular Swedes to reexamine their religious beliefs.

“According to several studies, Swedes don’t believe in God. How is that possible? Can anyone who saw the miracle in Berlin seriously claim that God doesn’t exist?” he asked

Johan Esk, sports columnist at broadsheet Dagens Nyheter (DN), spared no hyperbole in claiming the 4-4 draw was “Sweden’s biggest upset in footballing history”.

“Sweden created a bomb that will be heard throughout the footballing world,” he continued.

“Sweden went from being outplayed, outclassed, laughable bystanders to shocking heroes.”

According to Esk, Sweden “taught Germany and the entire footballing world that it doesn’t matter what the score is or what name is on the back of the opponents’ shirts”.

“Those who give up never have a chance. Those who never give up always have a chance to succeed. No matter how awful things look,” he wrote.

A jubilant Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, captured on film in the stands pumping his fists in a fit of football euphoria while a dejected German Chancellor Angela Merkel looked on, also praised the performance of Sweden’s national side.

“It was totally improbable,” he told the TT news agency following the match.

“I don’t know if Germany has ever lost a four goal lead before in one half at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.”

Meanwhile, Erik Niva, football columnist with tabloid Aftonbladet took aim at German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s collapse, which saw the normally solid performer let in four goals in thirty minutes.

“On a normal day at work, Manuel Neuer exudes self-confidence. Now he couldn’t catch a beachball,” wrote Niva.

He hailed Sweden’s performance as “one of the most improbably I’ve experienced in my life with Swedish football”.

The press in Germany also lambasted their national team’s performance, with Der Spiegel kicking off the criticism with the headline “60 minutes of heaven, 30 minutes of hell.”

READ MORE PRESS REACTION FROM GERMANY ON WWW.THELOCAL.DE

Columnist Mats Olsson from Expressen proclaimed the away draw against Germany was in a class by itself when it came to sporting “miracles”.

“For 45 minutes the Swedish national team looked like hedgehogs that had been paralyzed by a car’s headlights,” he said.

“I’ve never seen a sicker, more wild and wonderful match.”

The Local/dl

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