Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Jury is Still Out on how Good Sweden is

As we go into the international break, players will return to their countries team for important World Cup Qualifiers this weekend.

Games two, three and four really set the tone for the UEFA Qualifying Group stage. As of now, we are one game in and everyone still has a good chance of qualifying. Even if your team lost at home on Match-day one, there is still time to makeup ground.

To me, every game seems interesting. With only 13 berths into the World Cup in 2018 and about 35 competitive teams, the margin for error is extremely small. The difference between finishing finishing 6W-4T-0L and 6W-3T-1L might be the difference from 1st to 3rd place.

At the end of the day, winning the games that you should win is crucial if any team wants to qualify for the World Cup.

For Sweden, truer words have never been said before. Sitting in a group that features the Dutch and the French, points will be hard to come by against the stronger teams and therefore is important to get the most out of every game as possible.

Sweden will travel Luxembourg for Friday's Qualifier knowing that anything but a win would be disappointing. A win, would set up a tasty clash with Bulgaria on Monday.

Jury is still out for how good this Sweden team will be. A draw with Holland last month was acceptable but it was the Netherlands that were also going through a transition.

In the last four years, I think Sweden supporters took for granted their success in qualifying for the Euro's in 2016 and narrowly missing out on the 2014 World Cup. Sweden's run of success had to end at some point. The 2006 squad is so much better than the team that Sweden is fielding now.

With the increased talent level in other countries across Europe, it should be no surprise that Sweden is struggling. The last seven years, had been a slow decline and it is up to the new crop of players to lead the way.

Maybe than success will be appreciated. Winning a UEFA Qualifier should be a big deal. Winning four or more in a cycle shows signs of success.

For Sweden, the last time they failed to do so in a World Cup cycle was qualifying for the 1982 World Cup.

Sweden needs to deliver. They need to look dangerous offensively, otherwise it might be a long time before we see Sweden competing in a World Cup.

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