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Stop presses: How the media in Sweden view tonight’s must-win qualifier

We’ve looked at some of the Swedish newspapers to see what they’re saying about the big game.

AS BUILD UP to Ireland’s must-win clash with Sweden intensifies here, we wondered what our colleagues in Sweden were making of the game.

To do this, we spoke to Irishman Niall O’Rourke who has been living in Luleå, in the north of Sweden, for two years.

According to O’Rourke, the build up to the game has been relatively subdued so far with “far from the excitement and hype you’d get at home.

“You have to remember that football competes with ice hockey, Olympic handball and basketball for attention here and, even with the football coverage, there was almost as much made about the draw for the women’s Champions League last-16 as there was about the Ireland game,” says O’Rourke.

That’s not to say the game’s not being discussed at all. Far from it, it’s just the focus tends to be more on the tactics and the technical side of things than comment and opinion.

Take Dagens Nyheter for example, a national newspaper based in Stockholm. They have a number of pieces about the game on their online edition but the one that caught O’Rourke’s eye was this piece discussing Ireland’s threat from set pieces.

image This Dagens Nyheter headline roughly translates as ‘No defence against Ireland’s weapons’.

By talking to a few of Sweden’s players, including goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson, it discusses how difficult it is to defend Irish set-pieces, particularly as 60% of Ireland’s goal chances in these World Cup qualifiers have come from corners, free-kicks and the like.

One tactic this report suggests Sweden will use to defend against the Irish threat, is to drop Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to defend in dead-ball situations, something the PSG striker says he’s happy enough to do, despite it not being his favourite job.

Speaking of Ibrahimovic, the charismatic striker is the subject of this Sveriges Television (the Swedish equivalent of RTE) article in which he says this game will be completely different than the 0-0 draw in Sweden earlier in the campaign.

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imageZlatan has told SVT that he expects Ireland to attack more than they did in the reverse fixture.

According to O’Rourke, it’s the first time he’s seen the phrase “Det blir en helt annan match” but it translates into, roughly, a whole different ball game.

“In this piece Zlatan talks about how Ireland will have no choice but to attack and that Sweden’s best tactic will be to sit back, play the waiting game, and try to hit Ireland on the break.

“He doesn’t seem to realise that, with games against Austria and Germany to come for them, it’s also a must win game for Sweden,” says O’Rourke.

Perhaps the strangest article O’Rourke has read in advance of the game was in Swedish tabloid Aftonbaldet, in a piece entitled Zlatan is not an ogre.

image Just in case you were wondering, Zlatan is not Shrek.

“As I imagine he’s doing at home, Zlatan takes up a lot of column inches in Sweden too,” says O’Rourke “and this was one of the more light-hearted ones where Ezequiel Lavezzi says the Swedish captain isn’t as bad as the press, and Ibrahimovic himself, likes the world to believe.”

So there you have it. While the game might not be getting as big a billing in Sweden as it is here and while a lot of the coverage focuses on tactics rather than opinion, Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains its biggest storyline.

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