Already eliminated from the tournament, Sweden now look to a final match against France. A game that should have been the decider for whether or not Sweden would qualify for the quarter-finals, but turned out not to be. It is worth mentioning that there are a lot of Swedish fans who are travelling for this fixture alone with tickets and hotels booked since long ago. I struggle to think of a more depressing journey.
On a more amusing note, the Swedish fans in Kiev have spent the weekend singing: “We’re better than the Irish”. A display of good humour against a side that has also been eliminated, and thus far also true. Sweden would have to lose the last game by 6 goals for the song to be falsified.
France will feel optimistic about their chances of reaching the quarter-finals. Ukraine have to beat England by no more than one goal, whilst Sweden must win big (at least two goals) for France to be eliminated. I doubt Erik Hamrén and his men have this in mind going into the game.
As a Swede, I do however hope Sweden pull something like this off. Not because I have any quarrel with the French team or country, but because it would be uplifting to see Sweden playing some kind of role at this championship other than the one as whipping boys of group D.
Instead I believe Hamrén will approach this game as a building block for the World Cup qualifiers kicking off this autumn. This is a game at the highest level and even though they have crashed out of the tournament Hamrén will want to milk this game for all that it is worth. The logical decision would therefore be to start the people who will be playing during qualification for Brazil 2014. These are players like Andreas Granqvist and Jonas Olsson instead of Olof Mellberg or Rasmus Elm and Pontus Wernbloom instead of Anders Svensson. It would however be hard to deny a player like Mellberg his last game in the Swedish jersey, if he wants it.
Hamrén will also be reminded of prize money by the chairman of the Swedish FA Karl-Erik Nilsson. €1 million is on offer for a win in the group stage and that is a lot of money for a small footballing nation such as Sweden.
In other news, Jonas Olsson left the Swedish camp after the game against England to be present for the birth of his first child. He came back to Ukraine a father on Sunday and is now available for selection for the game against France. One might argue Olsson could have stayed with his girlfriend and newborn daughter seeing as Sweden are already knocked out. I am puzzled as to whether I love or hate the decision.