Sweden v Poland: Losing run against 'perfect' opponents of no concern to Sousa

By Sports Desk June 22, 2021

Sweden can win Group E by recording a sixth consecutive victory against Poland, but their opponents are focused heading into a matchday three "final".

The pool leaders have a dominant recent record in meetings with Poland, winning nine of their past 11 games and each of the previous five.

Poland have not beaten Sweden since 1991, although they were victors in the only previous major tournament clash at the 1974 World Cup.

Either way, Poland coach Paulo Sousa insists he is not concerned by past results ahead of Wednesday's game in St Petersburg.

"It is true that, from a statistical point of view, Sweden have a better record against Poland," Sousa said. "But if we look at the past, we won't move forward. We are only focused on what is now.

"Sweden are a perfect team. They press very well, they are good in set-pieces. There is huge diversity in their play."

Sousa added: "For us, it is like a final. We have been working hard since the first day of our training camp to be prepared."

Following a draw with Spain and narrow victory over Slovakia, Sweden are aiming to go an entire group stage without conceding for the first time since 1974.

And they do not intend to take their foot off the gas now.

Captain Sebastian Larsson said: "It's nice to be through to the round of 16 already after just two games, but we want more. Of course we'll go for the group win."

Despite Sweden's strong defensive record, this game should at least deliver goals. The sides' previous 26 meetings have not yielded a single 0-0 draw.
 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Sweden – Alexander Isak

Sousa described Sweden forward Isak as "one of the best players in Europe when it comes to counter-attacks". The striker completed six dribbles against Slovakia, although Sweden have not had a single fast break yet at the tournament. That may change against Poland, who will have to push forward in pursuit of all three points.

Poland – Robert Lewandowski

Having so often failed to make an impact on the international stage, dominant Bayern Munich goalscorer Lewandowski turned up against Spain. A stunning header meant he has been involved in 14 goals in his past 12 starts for his country. Another Lewandowski goal would make him Poland's outright leading Euros scorer on four.
 

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Sweden and Poland's only previous encounter at a major tournament came in the second round of the 1974 World Cup; Poland won 1-0, courtesy of Grzegorz Lato's solitary goal. The victors finished third – their joint-best performance at a major tournament – and Lato won the Golden Boot (seven goals).
– Poland have won just one of their past nine matches across all competitions (D4 L4), beating Andorra 3-0 in March. Indeed, Poland's ongoing five-match winless streak (D3 L2) is their longest since September to November 2018 (six games).
– Of Sweden's goals at the Euros, 88 per cent have been scored in the second half of games (23 of 26), the highest percentage of any side with at least three goals at the tournament.
– Poland have won their final group game in both of their last two major international tournaments (World Cup and Euros), beating Ukraine at Euro 2016 and Japan at the 2018 World Cup. Failing to win this match would be the first time Poland have not won any of their three group games at such a competition since Euro 2012.
– Sweden's Emil Forsberg has scored each of his nation's past two goals at major tournaments, netting winners in 1-0 victories over Switzerland at the 2018 World Cup and against Slovakia at Euro 2020. Forsberg has only scored in consecutive international appearances once previously, netting against France in November 2016 and Belarus in March 2017.

Related items

  • Philippe Clement urges Rangers to rediscover their composure for Hearts cup semi Philippe Clement urges Rangers to rediscover their composure for Hearts cup semi

    Philippe Clement is adamant under-pressure Rangers will focus fully on playing to their own strengths in Sunday’s Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final with Hearts.

    The Ibrox side head into the Hampden showdown on the back of a damaging run of two wins from their last eight games in all competitions, with their cinch Premiership title bid having been dented significantly by a return of just two points from their last three matches.

    Hearts, by contrast, go into the match buoyed by back-to-back wins over St Mirren and Livingston and are 11 points clear of their nearest rivals in their quest to secure third place in the table.

    Clement dismissed any notion that his side must adapt their game-plan in any way to deal with Steven Naismith’s on-form team and instead must simply attempt to play their own game to a higher standard than they have been recently.

    “I don’t counter anything,” he said. “We will play our own game, we don’t need to counter another team.

    “We are going to play our own game and believe in ourselves and show our qualities.

    “To win we need a better performance than we had on Wednesday (in the 0-0 draw at Dundee), for sure. We need to do the right things against Hearts who have played a very good season.

    “It’s a very interesting test for the players and I know they are all hungry to go to the final. They’ve had the experience of going to a final and winning it (the Viaplay Cup) and some of them have won several already so the mood is big.”

    Clement felt some anxiety crept into Rangers’ play on Wednesday and caused them to go too direct, so he has called for them to rediscover their composure when in possession.

    “Against Dundee we were too direct so we lost the balance in that way,” he said. “Sometimes we wanted to play too fast and it’s finding that good balance by showing it with images and what we need to do and take lessons out of that.

    “Maybe the hunger was too big to go too fast forward. We need to find a good balance and do that in a better way against Hearts.”

    Rangers have been subjected to ferocious criticism recently and Clement admits he will find out a lot about his players in terms of how they respond under pressure in the coming weeks.

    “It is easy to be good and be happy when it goes easy,” he said. “It is when the going gets tough you see the personality and the character.

    “Players can grow in this. It is a growing experience. It is not only from nature that you have this, you can grow in that.

    “That is an important part of being part of this club. It is also something that Nils (Koppen, director of football recruitment) knows really well, it is something to look at in recruitment also.”

  • Marco Silva wants Andreas Pereira to continue to make the right impression Marco Silva wants Andreas Pereira to continue to make the right impression

    Fulham boss Marco Silva will continue to demand more from Andreas Pereira as the Brazilian looks to maintain his form heading into the closing weeks of the Premier League season.

    Pereira scored both goals in Fulham’s 2-0 victory at West Ham last weekend, which was a first win in four matches.

    The former Manchester United attacking midfielder had not found the net since August, but is top of Fulham’s assists with eight so far.

    The consistency of Pereira, who was born in Belgium, has seen him recalled into the Brazil national team, featuring in both March friendlies against England at Wembley and then Spain.

    Silva feels the 28-year-old, who had a successful loan spell at Flamengo before signing for Fulham in the summer of 2022, still has plenty more to offer.

    “Andreas, last season made a huge impact. Before he joined us, he played more as a second midfielder and not so offensive,” the Fulham boss said.

    “This season, he is going to have one of the best assist records for us – and we will demand more.

    “Last week, he showed the desire to arrive in the right areas.”

    Fulham host Liverpool on Sunday looking to further dent the Reds’ ambitions.

    Jurgen Klopp’s side were knocked out of the Europa League by Atalanta and also slumped to what could prove a costly home defeat against Crystal Palace to lose ground in the Premier League title race.

    Fulham have pushed Liverpool in each of their three meetings this season, being narrowly edged out 4-3 after a dramatic finish at Anfield in their league match at the start of December followed by what was a tight Carabao Cup semi-final over two legs.

    “Probably some of them (have been) too open for a manager to enjoy, but yes, at Anfield and at the Cottage as well, they have been really – in some moments – emotional games, in other moments entertaining,” Silva said at a press conference.

    “Tight games always, in some of them dramatic ends of the match. But even last season, it was really tough for them to come to play at Craven Cottage (in the) Carabao Cup this season, too.”

    Silva added: “We want to make life really difficult for Liverpool, to give them a match.

    “Let’s hope we can get a different result than the last games that we played against them.

    Fulham could yet challenge for a top-10 finish.

    “I think we are in the best moment of the season,” Silva said. “We haven’t had big injuries in the last month and a half, or two months.

    “It, of course, creates a competition inside our squad that helps myself and the players to reach a different level and good headaches for me to decide, which is always the better situation to plan a game and prepare for the next game.”

  • Jurgen Klopp: Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota give Liverpool ‘a chance’ Jurgen Klopp: Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota give Liverpool ‘a chance’

    Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes the return of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota gives their title hopes a much-needed boost.

    Defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend saw Klopp’s side drop to third as Manchester City moved into a two-point lead at the top of the table.

    But with results faltering, the performance by Alexander-Arnold in the Europa League win over Atalanta, particularly in the first half, has offered renewed hope.

    The defender was making his first start since mid-February after a knee injury and, while Jota has yet to have the same impact in three relatively short substitute appearances after a similar two-month lay-off, the clinical nature of his game could offset some of the deficiencies currently being experienced by his fellow forwards.

    “We need Trent Alexander-Arnold, of course, but we need him in a really good shape and form and that’s what he has to get up to,” said Klopp ahead of the trip to Fulham.

    “It’s not about him and it’s not his fault if he wouldn’t be, it’s just the situation. So how quick can we get him rolling if you want – the same for Diogo.

    “We have to find a way to help the boys in the best way, to bring them as quick as possible into their best form or shape and from there we have to go.

    “Without them we wouldn’t have a chance. With them we have a chance, with them in a really good football moment the chance gets bigger and bigger.”

    Klopp remains positive about their chances despite recent failures and feels six wins could see them snatch the title from the grasp of their rivals.

    Although a Europa League exit on aggregate was disappointing there were positives to take from the game.

    Alexander-Arnold’s display, drifting infield to dictate play and even popping up in the centre-forward’s position on occasions in Bergamo, was one and a first clean sheet in 10 matches was another.

    With struggles up front continuing – Liverpool have scored only two goals in the opening 15 minutes in a league game this season – a more solid backline offers a better platform and that is why Klopp is optimistic.

    “I don’t have a lot of qualities but I am always completely honest. If I don’t feel great the players feel it pretty quickly,” he said.

    “I cannot really deny or just keep it under the carpet so that means after the game against Palace people ask ‘What do you tell the team now?’.

    “But here we are a few days later and I feel absolutely great, I see the good in the situation where we are. It is fantastic.

    “The boys know that I don’t tell them things which I don’t believe in and I am 100 percent sure we can really win all of the games we will have to from now on.

    “What should influence us more: the last game, the last week or is it the chance in front of us?

    “I am fully (of the opinion) that there is a next chance for us and we can turn things absolutely around in all departments. We can make it still an outstanding season.

    “It will be a good season but of course how you look at it is in the end is massively influenced by the last part of it.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.