The launch of Euro 2013 (pai Sundhage second left). Photo: Scanpix

Sweden ready to stage Euro 2013

"I hope it will be a festival of attacking football"
4:48 min

In 1992, Sweden hosted the European Football championships. Now, over two decades later, the finals return, but this time, it's the women's game that is taking centre stage. Coach Pia Sundhage and players from some of the 12 countries taking part were at the Friends Arena this week for the official launch of Sweden's song for the tournament. 

At the official opening, "Winning Ground" by Eric Saade was announced as Sweden's song for the Euro's. It's close to the heart of Sweden's Bob Dylan loving coach Pia Sundhage; her nephew Stefan Örn helped write the anthem.

Sundhage is leading a team into a European Championship finals for the very first time having coached the United States to two Olympic golds and a World Cup final.

"I hope that I will see a great event with a lot of attacking football and for us hopegfully we will have the 12th man, the Swedish general public."

Sundhage's four year stint with the United States came to and end last year, so the 53-year-old has had little preparation time with her Swedish team.

"As a coach you always want more but it is what it is. It's our ability to prioritise and so far we have done things well," Sundhage tells Radio Sweden.

The July 10th Group A clash between Sweden and Denmark at Gothenburg's Gamla Ullevi stadium is the curtain raiser to a tournament which comprises 12 teams, split into 3 groups with the top 2 from each of those groups and two of the third best-placed teams going through to the quarter-finals on 21st and 22nd July.

On paper at least, with Finland and Italy making up the rest of group A, Sweden are expected to finish top of their group, avoiding potential fatal meetings in the quarter-finals with favourites France and Germany, who have won the last five European Championships, but Sundhage is not looking to far enough.

"It's important to focus on the next game but we will be focusing on getting a good start and Denmark will be a challenge."

The Sweden-Denmark clash pits quite a few domestic teammates against each other. Sweden's Lisa Dahlqvist and Denmark's Line Röddike Hansen both play fo Tyresö in Sweden and the Dane is confident of progressing from their group.

"We are a good team and we play good possession football. Reaching the quarter-finals is our goal and anything else is a bonus," she says to Radio Sweden.

Denmark would be Lisa Dahlqvist's dream final opponents although France and a touch of revenge against the French is important.

"They knocked us out of World Cup in the quarter-finals so it would ne nice to get revenge."

The final will be played at the national stadium, the Friends Arena in Stockholm, July the 28th. It's the only game to take place in the nation's capital, with 6 host cities, Växjö. Kalmar, Halmstad, Norrköping, linköping and Gothenurg all being chosen as host venues.

Tournament organiser Göran Havik, says interest has been growing as the countdown to kick-off gets nearer.

"It's going well, we've been working for two years. We've already sold almost 70,000 tickets with over a mobnth to go," he tells Radio Sweden.

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