Swedes Hope To Celebrate National Day With A Win
Swedes will not only be celebrating their National Day on Saturday but will also be hoping to celebrate a victory against deadly rivals Denmark in a vital World Cup Group 1 qualifier at the Råsunda football stadium in Stockholm.
In recent times, there's been no shortage of incident in major championship qualifying games between the two neighbours.
Saturday evening's sell-out match at the Råsunda is the 100th meeting between the two Scandinavian rivals and there's much more than pride at stake with both sides needing the three points to take a step closer to South Africa and the World Cup finals next summer.
A win for Denmark would put them firmly in the driving seat for automatic qualification. The Danes are joint top of Group 1 with Hungary having played five matches, winning four of them. Defeat for Sweden on the other hand would see them 10 points behind the Danes, having played a game less. But a look at the Group 1 table can be misleading, Sweden have yet to lose a match , drawing twice , home and away against Portugal, the pre - group favourites for automatic qualification.
The Swedes also have in their line up one of the hottest forwards in World football. Zlatan Ibrhamovich won the domestic league in Italy with Inter Milan, where he topped the scoring charts. He's now in line for a big money transfer to the European Champions Barcelona. Swedish coach Lars Lagerbäck also has no inury worries unlike his opposite number in the dugout, Morten Olsson, who saw his best defender Daniel Agger of Liverpool pull out of training in midweek along with a sore back while experienced winger Jesper Grönkjaer is also struggling with a sore knee.
Whichever way the two sides line-up , the 100th anniversary meeting should produce plenty of fireworks. The last time Sweden and Denmark met in Copenhagen two years ago in a European Championship qualifier, the match had to be abandoned in the 89th minute with the score 3-3 after a drunken Danish supporter had run onto the pitch and attacked the referee following his decision to send-off Christian Poulsen and award Sweden a penalty.
Uefa subsequently awarded Sweden the match 0-3.
Sweden and Swedes celebrating National Day will be hoping for a similar scoreline, won on their own merits on Saturday to keep alive their hopes of automatic World Cup qualification.