2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

14 June - 15 July

Russia 2018

Three Swedish stars from Sochi

Sweden goalkeeper Robin Olsen makes a save
© Getty Images
  • ​Sweden’s players have expressed their pride over their performance against Germany
  • Alexandra Jonson identifies three of their heroes from Sochi
  • Janne Andersson heaped praise on one of them
By Alexandra Jonson with Sweden

It seemed like it would become a night to remember for Sweden in Sochi on Saturday, but instead it became one they would like to forget. A loss to Germany was expected, but to come via a 95th-minute Toni Kroos free-kick was extremely hard to stomach.

“This is probably the heaviest ending to a game in my career,” Sweden coach Janne Andersson declared afterwards. The players’ frustration evident with empty stares and several tears, Ola Toivonen told FIFA: “It will be a really tough night for all of us.”

Right there and then it seemed like the end of the world, but the morning after the Sweden players have woken up with another feeling. Player after player posted on social media to express their pride of the performance and being part of the Sweden squad.

“It was a tough defeat yesterday against a good opponent!” Marcus Berg wrote on Instagram. “So proud of what we have done, what we are doing and will continue to do until the end! We still have everything in our hands. Thank you for the support and to everyone of you who shows love and pride for yellow and blue.”

A similar message came from Robin Olsen on the same platform: “The heaviest loss in my career without a doubt. But we fought and gave everything for each other and we have to be proud of that. Thanks for all the support yesterday, both in the stands and at home in Sweden. Now we look forward to Wednesday’s match.”

And for Sweden, despite the hurtul defeat, there were several positives. Alexandra Jonson takes a look at three players who made an extra mark at the Fisht Stadium.

The defence was always going to be key if Sweden were to have a chance against Germany, and the men in their second-choice blue shirts were put under intense pressure from the outset. Mikael Lustig was one who really stood out, closing down the right flank, winning decisive duels and making things very difficult for Julian Draxler – so much so that Joachim Low decided to take Draxler off for striker Mario Gomez at half-time.

Ola Toivonen went into Russia 2018 having not had much playing time for Toulouse in 2018, which was worrying and led to debate over whether or not he should make Sweden’s XI. But the tall attacker tends to shine with the national team and showed against Germany just why Janne Andersson has put his trust in him.

“It was so wonderful to see him, the work he does,” said the Sweden coach post-match. “You tend to forget that Ola is a very technically gifted player. He has good qualities and scored a beautiful goal.”

It was an impressive defensive display from Sweden, which, coupled with some rapid counter-attacks, had Germany shaking. But had it not been for an outstanding performance from Robin Olsen in goal, the Swedes would likely have lost the game a lot sooner.

The likes of Olsen, Lustig and Toivonen and Olsen showed no signs of this being their miaden World Cup, not dropping their focus for a second. If they can do the same against Mexico, Group F could be set for a dramatic ending.

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