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17.11.2015, 13:16
Plenty of good choices for coaches Olsson and Lindgren
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EHF EURO INSIGHTS: Sweden are well on track in their EHF EURO 2016 preparations, as new talents rise through the ranks and stalwarts keep shining
 

Plenty of good choices for coaches Olsson and Lindgren

Two wins against Russia and a defeat against Spain were Sweden’s results in their EHF EURO test matches they played at the beginning of November.

Following a 30:21 win against Russia in Halmstad Sweden lost 32:27 to Spain and then defeated Russia again, this time 32:28 at a tournament in Gdansk, Poland.

However, as clear as the defeat against Spain might look, all three matches showed that Sweden’s joint national coaches, Staffan Olsson and Ola Lindgren, have a multitude of qualified players to pick from ahead of the final tournament in Poland.

Goalkeepers at a very high level

For decades, Sweden have had a reputation for developing great goalkeepers, and the country continues to do so.

At the moment, Flensburg veteran Mattias Andersson is the obvious first choice, and it will probably not worry Olsson and Lindgren, that Andreas Palicka’s transfer from Kiel to Aalborg may not have been the most successful one so far.

Mikael Appelgren’s success at Rhein-Neckar Löwen makes him a highly qualified stand-in, if Palicka fails to convince.

On the right wing, Niclas Ekberg from THW Kiel is the obvious choice, and the long-term injury break of Mathias Zachrisson from Füchse Berlin may not be as hard-felt, as one might expect, as young Anton Halén has benefitted a lot from joining Bundesliga side  Frisch Auf Göppingen, so Sweden still seem to have a highly skilled duo in this position.

No one can replace Kim Andersson

The right back though is a position, which may cause slight worries for the two coaches. It is hard to replace a world star like Kim Andersson, and so far, no one seems to come close to filling his footsteps in Sweden.

Johan Jakobsson gets not enough court time at club level, as he stands in the shadow of Holger Glandorf in Flensburg. Hence Sweden may have to rely on Andreas Cederholm, who has played very well for IFK Kristianstad so far this season.

Another option might be 21-year-old Linus Persson from HK Malmö, but his lack of experience at a high level speaks against him.

On the centre back position the fortunes could swing either way. Jim Gottfridsson’s foot injury rules him out of the EHF EURO, but on the other hand, at the age of 33, Lukas Karlsson has the experience as well as the skills to guide the Swedish game.

The KIF Kolding København playmaker was ruled out for the test matches, partly due to an over-stretched muscle in his back, and partly due to the fact that his wife, Norwegian international Ida Bjørndalen Karlsson gave birth to the couple’s first child in those days.

Much will depend on the prowess of Jesper Konradsson, a third and interesting option for the centre back position.

The 21-year-old Alingsas player has done extremely well in Sweden’s under-21 team, and already last season, he earned valuable EHF Champions League experience with Alingsas.

A multitude of left backs

The Swedes have no reason to mourn Kim Ekdahl du Rietz’  farewell to the national team anymore. The simple fact, that Olsson and Lindgren left out Markus Olsson from Danish EHF Champions League participants Skjern Handbold for last week’s matches shows how many qualified candidates they have on the left back.

However, Olsson is still in the race for the final squad, of course, and so is Philip Stenmalm from Naturhouse La Rioja, as well as Viktor Östlund from Eskilstuna and the latest rising star, 18-year-old Lukas Nilsson.

Nilsson really drew attention when he scored 15 goals for Ystads IF in an EHF Cup match against Permskie Medvedi.

Kälman and Petersen – who can ask for more?

The left wing position does definitely not give any reason for concern either. Jonas Kälman, who recently reached 600 goals for Sweden, is playing as well as ever at MOL-Pick Szeged, and the same applies to Fredrik Petersen at Füchse Berlin.

Both wings have plenty of experience, at the highest club level as well as in the national team, and you can almost always rely on them when they play for their country.

Several options on the line

The situation at the circle also looks reassuring, too. Andreas Nilsson has developed considerably after joining Veszprém last season year, and Jesper Nielsen from Füchse is consistent at both ends of the court.

To this pair, you can add Niclas Barud. The 26-year-old Frisch Auf Göppingen line player was absent because of his  paternity leave, when Sweden played their recent test matches, but he is definitely a man for the EURO squad too.

The minister of defence

We should forget Sweden´s minister of defence, of course: Tobias Karlsson.

The 34-year-old Flensburg player was rested for the test matches, as the coaches want a completely fit and fresh Karlsson for the final tournament in January.

Tobias Karlsson, who was awarded Best Defender at the latest European Championship, still has vital importance to the Swedish 6-0 defence, which is among the strongest in the world with Karlsson in its centre.


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
 
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