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07.01.2016, 10:52
Sweden’s strength is the defence, the problem is the attack
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EHF EURO 2016 COUNTDOWN #9: The Swedish squad for the EHF EURO contains numerous experienced players, but also some championship debutants - together they want to secure at least the Olympic qualification
 

Sweden’s strength is the defence, the problem is the attack

It will be a mix of experienced players and promising young talents who are going to Poland and the EHF EURO 2016 with the aim of bringing the record European champions back to where they once were.

The first Swedish goal is to advance from the delicately balanced Group C to which they have been drawn alongside Germany, Slovenia and Spain.

The second is to secure a one of the remaining places at an Olympic qualification tournament.

The team’s strength

In order to get far in the tournament, Sweden have to rely a lot on their traditional 6-0 defence which is so deeply rooted in the DNA of Swedish handball.

Built around defence specialist Tobias Karlsson, who was awarded best defender at the EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark, the defence is a main key to success for Sweden.

Behind this defence the goalkeepers Mattias Andersson and Mikael Appelgren will also need to perform at their best, as a goalkeeping duo at its best paired with a strong defence will grant Sweden the opportunity to launch counter attacks which will also be crucial to a successful championship for the Scandinavians.

In those counter attacks, the wings – Niclas Ekberg and Mattias Zachrisson on the right as well as Jonas Källman and Fredrik Petersen on the left – will obviously be important weapons due to their speed and scoring prowess.

The team’s weakness

Sweden will need all goals they can score from counter attacks, as they may face certain problems in their established attack.

Playing six against six, when the opponents have had the time to organise their defence, is not the situation the Swedes like best, to say the least.

The seven back court players – five right-handed and two left-handed – whom the national coaches Staffan Olsson and Ola Lindgren have nominated are definitely good, but none of them is true world class.

The 19-year-old rising star from Ystad, Lukas Nilsson, is likely to get their at some point, but there are limits as to how much you can expect from such a young championship debutant.

This means that Sweden will have to rely a lot on their wings in their established attacking play.

The line players will also come in useful and Veszprem’s Andreas Nilsson seems to be their strongest asset in the attack.

The team’s star

Sweden´s greatest star and main key player is their no.1 goalkeeper. Mattias Andersson will simply have to be at his best behind the well-known Swedish 6:0 defence, if the team wants to be successful in Poland.

However, there is every reason to expect the 37-year-old Andersson to be at his peak at the EHF EURO.

Everyone seems to agree that the experienced Flensburg keeper is at the top of his career right now and that he has actually never been better. On his best days, he can drive any shooter in the world mad.,

The hidden gem

A future Swedish star will almost undoubtedly be Lukas Nilsson. The 19-year-old left back from Ystads IF made a name for himself on the European stage in autumn when he scored no less than 15 goals away against Russian Permski Medvedie in the EHF Cup.

In the next round, against Grundfos Tatabanya from Hungary, Nilsson produced another stunning away performance on away ground. This time he scored 13 goals.

This young lad seems to be completely unimpressed by the opponent and the surroundings in which he is playing, and such an attitude is obviously ideal for any top athlete.

Lukas Nilsson has shown has great potential already, and he will definitely be worth to watch out for in Poland. 

Outlook

Sweden will probably make it to the main round, but they will have considerable difficulties reaching the semi-final.

 


TEXT: Peter Bruun / ts
 
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