/ Soccer

Sweden v Ireland: The Opposition

Updated: Friday, 22 Mar 2013 21:55 | Comments

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring one of the goals of the EURO 2012 tournament against France in Ukraine
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring one of the goals of the EURO 2012 tournament against France in Ukraine

By Ed Leahy

Sweden coach Erik Hamren has named his side for tonight’s clash with Ireland at Friends Arena.

Tobias Hysen has been named in attack and will play alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while, Behrang Safari will slot in at left back as a result of Blackburn Rovers’ left back Martin Olsson withdrawing from the squad.

Genoa centre-half Andreas Granqvist will partner West Brom’s Martin Olsson in the middle of the defence, while Celtic’s Mikael Lustig has been passed fit to start after recovering from an ankle injury.

So let’s take a quick look at the starting eleven that will face Ireland at Friends Arena tonight:

Andreas Isaksson The experienced keeper is set to earn his 104th cap tonight against Ireland. The 31-year-old plays his football at Kasimpasa SK in Turkey and was on the books of Man City for two years before moving on to PSV Eindhoven in 2008. A decent shot-stopper but also liable to make the odd howler, which might gift Ireland a goal.

Mikael Lustig The Celtic defender has recovered from an ankle injury to start at right back tonight. Lustig was part of Sweden’s failed EURO 2012 starting XI and is someone that the Irish may target as part of a vulnerable Swedish defence.

Andreas Granqvist Signed for Italian side Genoa in 2011, the 27-year-old centre half has been previously linked with Liverpool. The Swedish defence are far from a stable unit since the retirement of Olof Mellberg and Granqvist needs to strike up a partnership with Olsson to steady the ship at the back.

Jonas Olsson The long-haired West Brom centre-half has established himself as decent Premier League defender, however, he is prone to the odd mistake and is always in the ear of the referee. Up against clubmate Shane Long tonight, it will be interesting to see how that dual unfolds.

Behrang Safari Playing left back tonight but often the Anderlecht man often plays in the left side of midfield, so expect Safari to head on the odd excursion into enemy territory. Another defender who is prone to the odd mistake and may be targeted by the Irish.

Sebastian Larsson Another Premier League player in the Sweden squad, the Sunderland midfielder is an expert at the dead ball but has not really fulfilled the potential that he showed at previous club Birmingham City. Can chip in with the odd goal and his set pieces will be key for Sweden’s target men.

Kim Kallstrom Now playing his football in Russia with Spartak Moscow, Kallstrom will be a key man in midfield and is key to bringing Zlatan Ibrahimovic into the game. Might have little room to manoeuvre against the hard-working Irish midfield. Another man who can hit a decent free kick.

Rasmus Elm Another player who has gone east to play his club football in Russia, Elm plays for CSKA Moscow. Elm is key to the Swedish unit performing but was disappointing at EURO 2012, where Sweden failed to progress past the group stages. Played a vital role in the 4-4 comeback against Germany scoring the equaliser late into injury time.

Alexander Kacaniklic On loan at Burnley from Fulham, Kacaniklic should play wide on the left and is another who received great praise for his performance against Germany coming on at half-time to set up the third goal for Johan Elmander. Relatively inexperienced at international level, the 21-year-old will have his work cut out for him against Seamus Coleman.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Enough has been written about Sweden’s talismanic centre forward. Four goals against England in a recent international, including one of the best goals of all time. However, liable to go missing and may not enjoy the attention that he is likely to attract from the not-so-subtle Irish defence and midfield.

Tobias Hysén Son of former Liverpool centre half, Glenn Hysen, Tobias is a centre forward playing his football in the domestic league at IFK Goteborg. Was a member of the Swedish squad at EURO 2012 but didn’t get much of look in and is only playing as Johan Elmander is injured. Scored a few vital goals in Sweden’s qualifying campaign for EURO 2012.

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