Sweden performed admirably in the group stages of Euro 2020, topping Group E with seven points from their opening three matches, and when pitted against Ukraine, who finished third in Group C behind the Netherlands and Austria, in the last 16, few would have tipped Janne Andersson’s side to crash out in the first knockout round.
Whilst Sweden were never going to be considered amongst the outright favourites in the UEFA European Football Championship betting, they will still be bitterly disappointed to have not made it further in the competition.
However, there are still plenty of positives for Andersson and his players to reflect upon, like reaching the knockout stages of the European Championships for the first time since Euro 2004. So, without further ado, let’s take look back at Sweden’s Euro 2020 Campaign. Read on to find out more!
Matchday 1 – Draw with Spain (0-0)
With Spain playing their Group E matches in front of a predominantly home support at La Cartuja Stadium in Seville, it’s fair to say that Sweden went into their opening game against Luis Enrique’s side as the massive underdogs.
However, they held their own against the three-time European Champions, allowing Spain to have most of the ball whilst ensuring Enrique’s men were able to do little in terms of creating out-and-out chances. Sweden themselves didn’t record a single shot on target, but they would have been more than happy with a point.
Matchday 2 – Victory over Slovakia (1-0)
Slovakia were tipped to finish bottom of Group E prior to the tournament. However, after stunning Poland with a 2-1 victory in Matchday 1, Pavel Hapal’s men proved that they were not at Euro 2020 to merely make up the numbers. And, they proved a difficult opponent for Sweden in St. Petersburg.
Both sides had their fair share of chances, with Seb Larsson and Ludwig Augustinsson coming close for Sweden, whilst Marek Hamšík and Juraj Kucka tested Robin Olsen. As time ticked on, it looked as though Andersson’s side would have to settle for another point. But then Martin Dúbravka took down Robin Quaison in the box and Emil Forsberg converted from the spot to make it 1-0 with just 15 minutes remaining.
Matchday 3 – Victory over Poland (3-2)
With Spain being held by Poland in matchday 2, the Swedish players knew that a victory over Poland would see them top Group E, and they got off to the perfect start, as Forsberg netted the second-fast goal in European Championship history (82 seconds).
The RB Leipzig midfielder doubled up in the second half and Sweden’s place at the top of the group looked nailed on. However, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski struck twice to make it 2-2. The drama wasn’t over yet, as Viktor Claesson fired Sweden back into the lead four minutes into injury time!
Round of 16 – Defeat against Ukraine (2-1 AET)
Sweden headed into their round of 16 clash against Ukraine at Hampden Park in Glasgow as the slight favourites. However, Andriy Shevchenko’s men were never going to be a walk in the park, and after a wide-open first 25 minutes, Manchester City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko opened the scoring with a well-struck effort. The Swedes didn’t panic though, with Forsberg once again their hero, as his deflected effort from the edge of the box left Georgiy Bushchan helpless.
With neither side able to break the deadlock in the second half, the match headed for extra-time. And, when Marcus Danielson was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Artem Besedin in the first period of the additional 30 minutes, it was always going be a challenge for a knackered Sweden to keep Ukraine out.
It looked like they had done enough to force penalties, until Artem Dovbyk headed in his first international goal in the 120th minute, sparking scene of jubilation from his teammates and bench.
Sweden’s Player of the Tournament – Forsberg
With Zlatan Ibrahimović ruled out of the tournament due to injury, it was up to someone else to stand up and be Sweden’s star man at Euro 2020, and credit must be given to Forsberg for his performances for his country. Four goals in four games is no mean feat.
What’s next for Sweden?
Whilst Sweden are left licking their wounds and wondering what could have been for them at this year’s European Championships, there’s no doubt that Andersson’s men will be back in the knockout stages of a major tournament in the near future. They had two 21-year-olds in Dejan Kulusevski and Alexansder Isak leading the line and they will only get better with time. Perhaps life without Ibrahimović won’t be so bad after all.