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Euro 2012 Tactical Analysis: Will 'Zlatan style' help Sweden pregress?

Euro 2012 Tactical Analysis: Will 'Zlatan style' help Sweden pregress?

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A favourable group stage draw gives Sweden a chance to progress to the knockout stages. It will be interesting to see how Zlatan & his men adapt to Euro 2012. Goal.com analyses..

After Sweden failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, head coach Lars Lagerback was dismissed from his post after a nine year reign in charge of the Swedish national team. New coach Erik Hamren dismissed the old and boring 4-4-2 football under Lagerback and planned to introduce a more expansive type of football. Though Zlatan Ibrahimovic did not play for Sweden during Hamren's first eight months in charge, he was convinced that a successful future lay ahead for his country after meeting the new head coach in 2010.

“The leap in quality between most of the teams we played in the qualifiers and the Euro 2012 finals will be big, but I feel we have a good blend in this squad. There is youth and experience and a good mentality instilled by our coach. We can cause some surprises,” said Swedish defender Olof Mellberg. Goal.com takes a look at Sweden's chances at this European Championship.

FORMATIONS AND TACTICS

  HOW SWEDEN DEFEND

Gone were the days of Lagerback’s rigid 4-4-2 formation which after an extended period of qualifying for consecutive international tournaments had become stale and ineffective with the enigmatic Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic often lamenting the lack of creativity within the system which many believe to be the reason why the AC Milan striker retired from international football. His 4-2-3-1 formation should offer that stability and attacking threat in tandem. Their impressive display as they beat Croatia 3-1 away from home earlier this year was an example of the kind of performance they will look for at Euro 2012. He has also experimented with 4-3-3 and 4-4-1-1 formations in recent months.

Blackburn's Swedish left-back Martin Olsson cemented a spot in Hamren’s plans with four goals in his first six senior internationals and while he may be something of an untested performer against top quality opposition on the international stage, this 24-year-old full-back, who has been linked with a move to European champions Chelsea, is confident that he has what it takes to shine against the best.

HOW SWEDEN ATTACK

The safety-first tactics employed by former coach Lars Lagerback has been replaced by a more open and attacking style under Erik Hamren. Sweden play higher up the field, aggressively pressing their opponents to win back possession, and relies on the counter and a quick passing game, as well as set pieces, to generate scoring chances. The outside fullbacks are encouraged to venture forward, giving the attack more width. Interestingly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic doesn't play as the lead striker. Instead, he's deployed in a more withdrawn role in the centre, where Hamren feels the team can make better use of his creativity and goal-scoring ability.

SWOT ANALYSIS

Strengths - Erik Hamren's side are blessed with set-piece experts and attacking depth. Sweden's proficiency and expertise in dead ball situations means opponents will do all they can not to commit fouls around the 18-yard box. Rasmus Elm, Sebastian Larsson, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kim Kallstrom are expert free kick takers.

Weaknesses - The team is substandard at the back, as it lacks a regular right full back, and veteran Olof Mellberg doesn't have an established partner in the middle of defence. The Swedes also lack quality depth at the back, and will be in trouble if someone is injured.

Opportunities - Sweden has a good core of experienced players. Defender Olof Melberg will be playing in his fourth European Championship while Anders Svensson, Kim Kallstrom, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andreas Isaksson and Christian Wilhelmsson will be playing in their third.

Threats - Sweden dreams of making it to the quarter-finals, but it won't be easy to emerge from a tough group that includes host nation Ukraine, and France and England, two traditional European powers.

COACH IN QUOTE

 

"Serbia was good enough to play at the Euro finals so it was a good test. We have previously been good at set pieces and are looking to exploit every possible opportunity at Poland and Ukraine"
- Erik Hamren

 

THE VERDICT

 Sweden are the dark horses of group D. They have made it to the knockout rounds of major tournaments before, and can make it to the quarterfinals this time round. An upset over France or England in the group matches cannot be ruled out. 

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