Wednesday, 22 June 2016
Erik Hamrén realises that his team will have a devilish task against the Red Devils this evening (Wednesday) in Nice, at 9 p.m. However, the Swedish coach is not, for all that, defeated before the the starting whistle is blown. He confidently stated this during a press conference on Tuesday in the basement at the Allianz Riviera stadium in the city on the Côte d’Azur.
After its first two hard-fought games of the Championships, Sweden finished up with only a single point. Fortunately it drew with Ireland (1-1) before a depressing downhill defeat against Italy (0-1). So as to have a cat in hell’s chance of being in the last sixteen, it needs to clinch the game against Belgium.
“Our strategy on the whole, during the tournament, has not particularly been one of attack. Our defence has been strong but our attacking has unfortunately been less effective. We need to line up more shots for Zlatan Ibrahimovic,” explained the coach.
Hamrén, who as for Ibrahimovic, is perhaps taking his last stand for Sweden, is clearly well aware that his team will have a difficult task against the Red Devils. “Belgium is ranked second in the FIFA classification, we’re ranked 35th. There is thus a major abyss between us. A defeat will be a catastrophe for Belgium.”
He went further, “We are playing against an excellent team with a brilliant attack line-up. We are therefore about to climb a large mountain. However, I think it very likely that we will have more chances than we did against Italy.”
The last two meetings with the Red Devils have equally led to defeat for the Scandinavians. The score was 0-2 during a friendly match in June 2014 at Solna and 1-2 during a friendly match during Euro 2000 in Brussels.
“This will be difficult. We need give far more than 100%. It goes without saying that if both teams give 100%, we will definitely lose as Belgium clearly has the greater talent and permanently has its eye on the ball. We need to give 200% and absolutely prevent them from developing their game,” adds Hamrén.
He does not perceive this as the most important game of his career as the national coach.
“The roadblocks we faced when playing Denmark were a great deal more significant. If we’d suffered the blow of losing against them we wouldn’t even be here. There are a fair amount of good teams absent from this tournament and it’s fantastic that we’re not one of them.”