Tag Archives: expressen

Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally justified the hype v England

Zlatan's a genius! Arrogant enigma’s wonder goal finally justifies his bragging

|

UPDATED:

22:44 GMT, 15 November 2012

Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave himself the perfect 10 but for once he may have been guilty of underestimating his own importance.

For a start there was the wonder goal, a 30-yard propeller kick, the final piece in his four-goal demolition of England which quickly became an internet sensation, hailed as one of the best goals ever.

But there was more to it, because after a night when the Swedes declared their handsome new national stadium open for business, their captain’s heroics were considered capable of healing social wounds and stemming the rise of the political far-right in the country.

Staggering: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his fourth goal against England

Staggering: Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his fourth goal against England

It was, in short, some performance. ‘Zlatan’s Arena’ wrote the newspaper Expressen in honour of Ibrahimovic, who was born in Sweden of mixed Balkan descent. He is, indeed, some footballer, although it wasn’t always quite like this. Just as England debate how to get the best from Wayne Rooney, the Swedes for years did the same with their talisman.

Ibrahimovic had everything a modern centre forward might want and he won the title each year, be it with Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona or AC Milan. Yet rarely did he summon such form with any consistency in a Sweden shirt.

When England beat the Swedes in a friendly at Wembley this time last year, he was anonymous, apparently uninterested, emitting strong vibes of impatience at the failings of his team-mates. It came soon after the publication of his book I, Zlatan in which he dared to criticise Pep Guardiola and recalled how he told the all-conquering Barcelona boss: ‘I am a Ferrari and you are driving me as if I am a Fiat.’

His strike-rate against English teams had been appalling, even though in 2010 he scored twice for Barca against Arsenal. Despite his unwavering self-belief, Ibrahimovic was conscious of popular opinion in England. The statistics would roll out every time he played here, along with the fact that, for all his posturing arrogance, he has failed to win the Champions League.

Main man: Ibrahimovic scored all four goals as England were beaten

Main man: Ibrahimovic scored all four goals as England were beaten

This year, however, something changed regarding Ibra the Enigma and his relationship with English football. It started when AC Milan destroyed Arsenal in the San Siro in February. Ibrahimovic scored once but there was more.

He was majestic as he orchestrated a 4-0 win for the Italian champions and he tormented England again in Kiev at Euro 2012, where he was the best player on the pitch despite defeat, as he embraced his new responsibilities in the national team.

When Erik Hamren took control he made a significant tactical tweak, abandoning the 4-4-2 formation to which Swedish football had been wed for many years.

Hamren adopted the increasingly fashionable 4-2-3-1 system but Ibrahimovic, who seemed to be the perfect centre forward for such a system, would be his playmaker in the No 10 role, as well as his captain.

In Stockholm, the stage was set as Sweden declared its new 50,000-seat Friends Arena open for business with the nation locked in a debate about immigration, prompted by growing support for far-right party Sweden Democrats.

Thorn: Ibrahimovic was also impressive last season when AC Milan beat Arsenal

Thorn: Ibrahimovic was also impressive last season when AC Milan beat Arsenal

Ibrahimovic, born in Malmo to parents from Bosnia and Croatia, is a totem for Sweden in the 21st century and his heroics against England on Wednesday were celebrated across the country.

After recovering from four down to draw 4-4 with Germany in a World Cup qualifier last month, Swedish fans rejoiced in a thrilling 4-2 win against England, the beauty of the final goal and one of the great individual efforts. But there was more.

Sportbladet dubbed him ‘Sweden’s Pride’, and Pontus Wernbloom said: ‘They probably weren’t happy with that, the idiots. I hope Zlatan shut them up.’

Kim Kallstrom added: ‘He is a modern Swede who stands for new Sweden. With foreign-born parents and certain problems in society, he can hopefully unite the country in a good way.’

If he does this, Ibrahimovic may be justified in upgrading the mark he awarded himself for his contribution to Swedish football from a 10 to an 11.

Sweden v England: Roy Hodgson greeted by friendly faces – Michael Walker

Friendly faces greet Hodgson 'homecoming' as 'big-draw' England prepare for Sweden

|

UPDATED:

23:28 GMT, 13 November 2012

In the sports section of Sweden's Expressen newspaper on Tuesday, Watford were tipped to beat Wolves at Vicarage Road on Saturday.

Expressen also reckon Blackpool will win at Bristol City and, more boldly, Chelsea will leave West Bromwich with three points.

As for Sverige-England tonight, that's marked down for a draw.

Honour: England have been invited by Sweden to open their newly-built Friends Arena

Honour: England have been invited by Sweden to open their newly-built Friends Arena

Honour: England have been invited by Sweden to open their newly-built Friends Arena

The league tables of all four English divisions were printed. It was a reminder of the pull English football has in Scandinavia and, in part, is an explanation why, when Sweden planned to open their 240million Friends Arena – Friends being a charity of Swedbank – they chose to invite England.

The 'motherland of football', as Sepp Blatter calls England, may not be conscious of it on a daily basis, but England are still a big draw on the world stage.

Sweden's previous national stadium in Stockholm, Rasunda, has been closed by Brazil. Sweden share a bond with Brazil since the 1958 World Cup final held here. It is a compliment to England that they have been asked to open this stadium.

All smiles: Hodgson spoke of the great honour of his England side being invited to play in Sweden

All smiles: Hodgson spoke of the great honour of his England side being invited to play in Sweden

It was England, in 1937, who opened the Rasunda. So it is an occasion in Stockholm and, while the customary grumbles about international friendlies have been heard, this is also Roy Hodgson's last match of his first half-year in charge and his last for three months.

Hodgson marched into the ground last night and spoke of the 'great honour' of the invitation. Lennart Johansson, the 83-year-old former head of UEFA, had come to sit in the front row to see the England manager. There was a rousing 'Hello, Len!' from Hodgson.

After the press conference Steven Gerrard pointedly made his way to shake Johansson's hand.

'Hello, Len': Hodgson greets the former head of UEFA Lennart Johansson, who came to see the England boss

'Hello, Len': Hodgson greets the former head of UEFA Lennart Johansson, who came to see the England boss

Hodgson talked of the 'very interesting squad' he has brought with him, adding all were 'very keen and anxious to play in this game'.

He was clearly enthused about being here. Others are less so. The fixture might have created more of a tingle at home, of course, had the two countries not met in Kiev in June.

But that was the last instalment of a relationship that dates back to 1923 and tonight matters to Sweden. That in itself should make this more competitive than some friendlies.

Former Villain: Sweden No 2 Marcus Allback

Former Villain: Sweden No 2 Marcus
Allback

Sweden have the recent memory of their dramatic 4-4 draw in Germany – from 4-0 down. But they would like to beat England.

Because of that, Hodgson said it will be more of a test for the mix of young and old he has brought here.

Another factor that might make this differ from many friendlies is Hodgson. His manner last night was of a man coming home. Hodgson is well liked and respected here, a country he arrived in as a coach in 1976.

As Sweden manager Erik Hamren said: 'He has a good reputation here. I really like him as a coach and a person. He has been really good for Swedish football and is a big name in Sweden, acclaimed by all our coaches. There's big respect for him.'

That feeling is part of a connection that goes back to the beginning. Dig into so many European countries' football history and invariably there is a tale of an English pioneer, frequently coupled with railwaymen.

It was the same here, though the pioneer came later. George Raynor was never properly recognised or utilised in England, but he managed Sweden to the 1948 Olympic title, in London, as well as to the 1958 World Cup when they lost the final to a 17-year-old Pele.

It was a long time before England would allow a foreign manager but when it happened, in 2001, he came from Sweden: Sven Goran Eriksson.

The invention of the Premier League and the Bosman ruling have also meant a flow of Swedes to England. Marcus Allback, Hamren's assistant, played for Aston Villa.

Rather more memorably, so too did Olof Mellberg. There was Freddie Ljungberg at Arsenal, Anders Limpar before him and fleetingly Henrik Larsson at Manchester United post-Celtic.

With so much fuss over Wilfried Zaha's call-up and with Crystal Palace being Hodgson's first club as an aspiring player, there is also Tomas Brolin's short spell at Selhurst Park to remember.

Maybe after tonight, Wilf can expand on that.

London 2012 Olympics: Carolina Kluft injured

Legendary long jumper Kluft forced to abandon Olympics after injury

|

UPDATED:

17:53 GMT, 22 July 2012

Swedish long jumper Carolina Kluft says she won't compete at the London Olympics because of a hamstring injury.

The former Olympic and world heptathlon champion told Swedish tabloid Expressen she sees no point in going to London after the injury forced her to pull out of a competition in Finland.

Blow: Carolina Kluft will not compete at the Games

Blow: Carolina Kluft will not compete at the Games

She said: 'There will be no Olympics. I don't want to go there with these preparations.'

It wasn't immediately clear which leg was affected.

It was the latest in a string of injuries that has plagued the 29-year-old Kluft in recent years, but she says she's not ready to quit just yet, and still plans to compete in events later this year.

Kluft won gold in 2004 at the Athens Olympics heptathlon.