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WORLDCUP

Paraguay coach: we can beat Sweden

Paraguay can beat Sweden in their next match and take a huge step towards taking their place in the second round of the World Cup claimed the South American side's coach Anibal "Maño" Ruiz on Monday.

Ruiz, whose side slipped to a 1-0 defeat in their Group B opener against England on Saturday, accepted that Sweden, who they play in Berlin on Thursday, were a good side but no better than his, who are bidding to reach the second round for the third successive time.

“Sweden has a lot of ability,” said Ruiz, who has come in for some criticism since the England game with former goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert saying the team played like a bunch of losers.

“We know them well. They played well against Trinidad and Tobago without getting the result they needed. We are going to need to play a very good match if we are to win. However Sweden is one of the teams that we think are about our level.”

Ruiz said that evidently they would need to attack to ensure they won but that did not mean they were going to concede ground at the back.

“Obviously mentally we have to believe we are going to win, but that does not mean we are going to take it easy and not support our defence.”

The Paraguayans’ final group match is against Trinidad and Tobago on June 20 in Kaiserslautern, while Sweden will meet England in what could be a make-or-break tie for the yellow-clad Scandinavians.

On Saturday Sweden only managed a 0-0 draw against the Caribbean minnows, who were forced to play with 10 men for most of the second-half.

The country’s media slated the team’s performance, and coach Lars Lagerbäck’s assertion that Sweden played ‘a really good match’ was seen as adding insult to injury.

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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