European Championships: Things that happended while I was away

It was a major family gathering. I turned away from the dinnertable, somewhere between the main course and the dessert, took up my cellphone and wapped to SVT's teletext. My brother looked at me, queringly. "One-nil, Anna Sjöström", I answered. "At what time?" "3rd minute". "Well, thank god we didn't have to sit through that one!", he exclaimed.

I think he probably was on the spot there. From the reports it doesn't seem like it was very enjoyable. The major tabloid had a big headline across the front of the sports section that said "VIDARE!", but with the dot over the I exchanged for five small letters "INGET". Which is pretty clever in swedish: "vidare" means further or through (we won so we're through to the semis) while "inget vidare" means "not very good".

In spite of winning their group, undefeated to that, the swedish team has far from met the expectations. Critizism from media and fans is harsh. Sweden were supposed to dominate against all the other teams in their group, maybe with some exception for Denmark. Instead they have just squeezed by. The lack of goals, the bad passing play, the absence of activity on the wings, the repeated changes of the midfield composition, the constant long and high balls aimed at a striker that is, to quote a TV commentator, two pancakes tall and an almost invisible pair of forwards. Only the defense, and mostly Hanna Marklund, has satisfied the critics so far.

The players and coaches on the other hand willingly admit that the play could have looked better, but they have so far done what they are here to do, resultwise. The swedish tactics, with pressure already in the offensive third of the field, takes a lot of strength. "The defense starts with the forwards" is a common statement from the swedish coaches, and Ljungberg and Svensson has certainly done their bit in that respect. But that takes it's toll and makes the swedish counters slower and less forcefull.

And there is, though not that well represented, a view that this is as good as we are. The field in a competition like the European Championships is strong, there are no push-overs (maybe except for Italy). Be content that the team actually gets the job done and don't complain about how it's done.

I could give you loads of links here, but it I really don't feel like browsing through a weeks worth of 10-15 internet newspapers to find them. Look for yourself if you feel like it., and covers this event extensively and I  think you'll find news and views at every other swedish site I've ever linked to here.

Finland's women on the other hand were completely exhilarated after their 2-1 win over Denmark. The biggest thing ever in finnish football, men or women, was among the most modest statements. There was a fantastic audio clip on finnish radio, an interview with Jessica Julin and Heidi Kackur (they are both from the swedishspeaking minority) directly after the match. They seem to have pulled it now, maybe too much swearing in it?? Julin and Kackur were on top of the world and needed to emphazise every feeling with a well chosen swearword. It was probably also from another post match interview, with a happy but somewhat more relaxed team captain Sanna Valkonen, that the rumour that the finnish girls would celebrate by skinnydipping in the hotel fountain emanated.
No link, since they pulled my favourite clip.

The young ones against the old guard is a popular theme. Seger, Öqvist and Schelin are fun, vocal and self-confident. So far none of them has really impressed on the field, but who has. But in one event they have taken the lead. The swedish national team players, especially those from Umeå, has a reputation of being shopaholics. But Seger, Öqvist and Schelin has taken over at least there.
TV4 (Shopping clip)
Expressen: En blågul modeoffensiv

Bad play or not, the European Championship is the big thing in sports in Sweden these weeks. The Finland match was played and televised opposite the men's friendly against Norway. The women's match got an audience of 1,2 millions while the men's game, shown at another network, got half as much. None of the big names (Ljungberg, Ibrahimovic) played for Sweden, but nonetheless.
Dagens Nyheter: Damlandslaget vann tittarmatchen

Matches with 25 to 30 thousand in the crowds are not commonplace with european women's football and I think England's matches got bigger TV audience than the FA Cup final. But what concerns the tournament itself there are still ways to go. Representatives for the swedish FA says there is a lot left to do:
- the squads are to small, 17 outfield players compared to 220 in the men's tournament
- all competing teams are put in the same hotel - unthinkable in a men's tournament
- they are not alone at the hotels, they have to share it with tourists and wedding parties
Dagens Nyheter: Damfotboll släpar efter herrarna

Posted by: secretcode

Can you please reveal the name of the commentator who said:
"two pancakes tall and an almost invisible pair of forwards" ?
I don't care about links so much, but would like to know the names of the people who make the more notable remarks. Thanks.

2005-06-17 @ 18:09:25
Posted by: Dandal

Both quotes are from Tina Nordlund, former national team player (silver medalist at Euro 2001), now with TV4. The pancakes are actually from an Umeå match earlier this year, but since it applies to Hanna Ljungberg I thought it was fun to recycle it. And she didn't literally call the forwards invisible, that was my rewrite, she said, according to reliable sources: "The forwards? Do we have any??".

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2010-08-15 @ 11:19:53
Posted by: Coach Crossbody

Championships are heart-stirring

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