Set piece blind spots and a leaky defence? Here's the Swedish weaknesses Ireland can target

Stockholm-based Irish journalist Philip O'Connor chats to Team 33's Raf Diallo ahead of Monday's game

BY Raf Diallo 11:25 Monday 13 June 2016, 11:25 13 Jun 2016

Sweden's head coach Erik Hamren, left, talks to Sebastian Larsson during a Euro 2016 qualifying Group G soccer match between Russia and Sweden in the Otkrytie Arena stadium in Moscow, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Denis Tyrin)

If we view Sweden as our most winnable game at Euro 2016, you can bet your house that the Swedes have a similar view of this Irish team in Group E.

On Monday, we'll find out if it's Martin O'Neill's men or Zlatan Ibrahimovic and co who will come out on top.

Stockholm-based Irish journalist Philip O'Connor joined Team 33 from Paris ahead of Monday's game to talk about how Zlatan fits into the setup tactically, Sweden's man strengths, the integration of a successful under-21 crop and other players to watch including "accidental footballer" Emil Forsberg.

But he also points out some glaring weaknesses that Ireland can exploit at the Stade de France.

You can also read Philip's preview of Sweden's Euro 2016 campaign right here.

You can also listen to his chat with Team 33 on the podcast player or on iTunes

Sweden's midfield

"[Kim Kallstrom] is getting old. He's 33, 34 now. He's been a long, loyal servant and that's probably why he's still in the squad. He still has a tremendous left foot and is still capable of delivering the ball on a sixpence but I don't know does he have the physical capacity especially against an Irish side that is not going to back down and is going to run as hard in the 95th minute as it does in the first and that's going to cause Kim a few problems," says Philip, who points out that Albin Ekdal might have started instead only to suffer a clumsy nightclub mishap.

Sweden's Kim Kallstrom (left) and Andreas Granqvist (right) Picture by: Joe Giddens / PA Archive/Press Association Images

"So you also have Oscar Lewicki. Oscar's quite small, a very terrier-like midfielder, has plenty of top level experience from playing with Malmo in the Champions League. But that said, he hasn't stood out the way that Forsberg has done. Oscar won't back down from a challenge but I don't know that he is physically big and strong enough to take on the likes of McCarthy or Whelan. In that sense, I would say the Irish central midfield should be able to take hold of the baton and dictate the pace of the game come Monday."

The defence

"The defence is very, very leaky," says Philip, explaining that previous manager Lars Lagerback emphasised organisation before the arrival of current boss Erik Hamren, who is more of a motivator than a tactician.

"All of a sudden, Sweden were scoring loads of goals, really, really brilliant footballing goals but they were conceding goals all over the place and I remember asking him just before the Euros four years ago - they had conceded five goals in a row from set pieces - I stuck up my hand at a press conference and I said 'Erik, you've conceded five goals from set pieces, what are you going to do about it?'

"He said, 'Come back to me when we lose a game because of it' and the following night they lost 2-1 to Ukraine having conceded two goals from set pieces. So my hand went up again and I said, 'Erik, you've now conceded seven goals from set pieces, what are you going to do about it?'

"The point about that is, I don't know if he's capable of getting the defensive organisation that's necessary in international football. I think Robbie Brady in the Irish side and Wes Hoolahan, guys are capable of delivering a dead ball but also capable of delivering a cross. Sweden look very weak when they're charging back towards their own goal," says Philip, who has seen many teams target the inside channel between right back Mikael Lustig and centre-back Andreas Granqvist with counter-attacks down the wing potentially fruitful.


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