GROUP C IS TIGHT

Group C is fast approaching a great climax, and the Republic of Ireland will not be adopting a defensive approach to the game according to Sweden manager Erik Hamren. Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni used a very defensive tactics against Sweden when the two teams met each other earlier in the qualification campaign. This led to a boring 0-0 draw between the two teams, but Hamren thinks that the fans could be given a spectacle of attacking football because both teams need to win. It was not good enough for both teams and this could propel them into playing an attacking style of football.

Sweden will undoubtedly be the favourites to get victory from the match due to the presence of PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is regarded as one of the best strikers in the world. Ireland will want to give manager Trapattoni a resounding send off. He is widely believed to be on his last few matches as the manager of Ireland. Germany are on course to winning the group, which leaves the likes of Sweden and Austria to fight for the second and final qualification spot. Both teams are very close to each other with only a couple of points separating them.

Hamren has stated that he wants three points from this match despite this being an away encounter.

“I expect a different kind of match to the one in Stockholm, a more open game. I hope we’ll be able to find the space in behind them to play the ball into. They (Ireland) will hopefully open up a little more, opening up space for us, but then that means we’ll have it a little more difficult defensively. Underestimating? You can forget that. That never happens at this level. Maybe in a friendly, but not in a competitive game,” said Hamren.

ZLATAN HEADING TO ITALY?

Paris St Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been linked with a return to Italian football with the likes of Inter Milan and Juventus interested in his services. The 31-year-old Swedish international has established himself as one of the best strikers in the world over the last decade. His quality has seen him play for the likes of Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax, and Juventus during an illustrious career. He recently helped PSG win their first league title for 19 years by scoring 30 goals last season. However, the arrival of Edinson Cavani for £ 55 million has sparked rumours that Ibrahimovic may be set for an exit from the club.

The player, though, has rejected such speculation by saying that he will be remaining as the PSG player beyond this transfer window. He also revealed that the club are currently set to hold talks with him over the possibility of offering him a pay rise despite the 31-year-old being one of the best paid players in the world. Ibrahimovic has not seen the arrival of Cavani as a threat to his first-team spot. Instead, he has said that he would welcome the Uruguay striker, who would add a lot of quality to the team.

“My future? I am under contract at PSG. There should be no reason for my situation to change in the summer. We will talk details, and I am very confident I know what will happen. As a new player he has to discover the team, the city and the fans. It will be a good reinforcement,” said the 31-year-old. Ibrahimovic has also been linked with a move to the Premier league for a long time. If he does move, then it would make the 31-year-old as one of the few to have played in the major leagues of Spain, Italy, France, and England.

ZLATAN MUST STAY

Paris St Germain defender Thiago Silva has said that Zlatan Ibrahimovic should reject any advances from Premier league outfit in Manchester City in the summer. The Swedish striker has long been a target for City manager Roberto Mancini. They tried to get him while he was at Inter Milan and failed to do so. They once again tried before he moved to PSG, but were unable to do so once again. However, Mancini is not reluctant to miss out on the Swedish striker, who is regarded as one of the best in the world. They are expected to make an offer in the summer as well.

However, Silva has said that Ibrahimovic should consider staying at PSG after helping them to almost win the league title this season. PSG are only a couple of points away from sealing their first league title in France, while they also made it into the quarter-finals of the Champions League – only to be defeated by Barcelona – this season. Silva and Ibrahimovic arrived at PSG at the same time. Ibrahimovic has scored 36 goals in just 43 matches for PSG this season. He is currently the top scorer in the French league. Ibrahimovic is the main target for Mancini in hopes of reclaiming the title from United.

“I hope Zlatan will stay at PSG. He can help the team and the club grow. I really want him to stay put. I have not yet had the opportunity to talk to him about whether he has already made a decision on his future. He’s a normal guy who always wants to win. He gets angry when things don’t go well. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it isn’t. I see him as a positive guy, though, who gives strength to the team,” said Silva.

SWEDEN CAN PROGRESS

Buoyed by the recent success against England, Sweden manager Erik Hamren has said that he is confident that his team can secure victory against the Republic of Ireland in the World Cup qualifying match between the two nations. This will be the first World Cup qualifying match for Sweden since October. They have played against England and Argentina in friendly matches during this period. They managed a 4-2 win over England, but they could not repeat the feat against Argentina after losing narrowly 3-2 to the South American team. The match against Ireland will also be the only World Cup qualifying match until June.

Hence, Hamren has said that his team needs to get all three points from this home match in order to at least secure a play-off spot at the end of the campaign. Sweden have almost no chance of catching the latest Germany, who are way ahead at the top of the table. The likes of Austria and the Republic of Ireland are the realistic contenders for Sweden. However, the team could manage only a drab 0-0 draw in the home match. After the encounter, Hamren has said that he is disappointed having taken just one point from home match, but he is confident of success in Dublin when the two teams meet in September.

“Of course we are disappointed with one point at home but, if we win away, we are OK. We tried to win here but couldn’t today. Then we have a bigger task when we come there but it’s possible. It’s possible to win in Ireland too. One question can be that we still aren’t an experienced team. If you see the team today, four or five have only played one qualification game before so some of the players do not have this experience,” said Hamren.

SWEDEN UNBEATEN

Sweden’s unbeaten run in all competitions, which stretched to 10 matches, finally came to an end after the 3-2 defeat at the hands of Argentina in a recent friendly match. This was one of the high profile matches for Sweden in the current year. Their previous defeat also came against a South American nation – Brazil. Even though the Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi was not on the scoresheet, Argentina still managed to score three times. Lustig’s own goal after just 3 min gave Argentina a very early lead in the match, but Sweden were able to pull a goal back through Olsson in the 18th minute.

The Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero did not take long to put Argentina back into the lead after he scored straight from the kick-off in the 19th minute. Argentina soon doubled their advantage in the match through a goal from the Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain 4 min after the goal from Aguero. Argentina maintained this incredible advantage throughout the match only for a late goal from Elm to provide Sweden with hope of getting something out of the game. However, it never materialised and Argentina held on for the victory. It also meant that Sweden suffered their first defeat since August.

“They have a skilled team with a lot of skilled players. You can park the bus in front of your own goal and hope for counterattacks. We chose to play our own game,” said the Sweden manager Hamren. “I think we moved the ball very well. We had some problems with the aerial game, as they had some tall people,” said the Argentina coach Alejandro Sabello. Sweden’s next match will be a World Cup qualifying match against the Republic of Ireland, who managed to win their friendly match against Poland. This match will take place in the month of March.

ZLATAN IS ONE OF BEST

The French club Paris St Germain signed the Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the summer for around £ 20 million. He has been one of the best buys for the club in recent years, as he has been able to help them challenge for a position at the top of the table. The striker has already scored 18 goals in all competitions for the club, while he recently was involved in an even more extravagant display for the national team in the match against England. The 31-year-old has stated that he is extremely happy to be at PSG creating a new history for the club.

Backed by the Qatari owners, the club has been spending big on several players over the last couple of transfer windows. The presence of the former Chelsea and AC Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti has helped them attract talent as big as Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Despite being the only club for the French capital Paris, they have been unable to take the league title yet. Ibrahimovic believes that the club are in a major period of transition and they will be successful in a short while. Even though the project began more than a year ago and he has been at the club for only six months, Ibrahimovic has already seen major progress made by the club on and off the field.

“Paris is a club in major transition. For me, everything has been positive but in the end everything depends on the results. If we win, everything will be better. We have some fantastic players but this project only began a year-and-a-half ago and I have only been here six months but I have seen things advance very, very quickly. I knew when I came here, it would be a big thing for the media because to come to Paris was not necessarily expected for a player at the peak of his career,” said Ibrahimovic.

HAMREN HAILS ZLATAN

The Swedish national team manager Eirik Hamren has hailed the goal scored by the PSG forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic by saying that it was an impossible goal. The 30-year-old Swedish striker was at his imperious best in the recent match against England, as Sweden managed to win the match 4-2. He has always been criticised by the English media for not performing well at the big stages, but he has certainly put an end to all the talk with his one goal. The striker had scored in the three previous goals in a match, but he will forever be remembered for his fourth and final goal.

The England goalkeeper Joe Hart appeared to punch the ball out to relative safety before trying to return to his goal. However, Zlatan Ibrahimovic credit score from an impossible angle almost 30 yards out with an overhead kick. Incredibly, the goal was scored by the 30-year-old forward to the amazement of every football fan around the world. It has now been claimed as one of the best goals in the history of the game, while the Swedish manager Hamren has said that it is almost impossible for another player to replicate the goal again. The England midfielder Steven Gerrard also praised the goal by saying that it was the best he has ever seen.

“Sometimes, you think you are looking at a video game where you can do all these incredible things. The fourth goal is not possible,” said the Sweden manager. “When I saw the long ball I saw the goalkeeper come out. I was thinking should I go in the duel or should I wait for him to put it out? When he put it out I had it in my mind that I would try to score. It was a nice goal,” said Ibrahimovic.

HAMREN GOES FOR YOUTH

The Sweden national football team manager Erik Hamren has said that he will be opting for a much younger side when Sweden take on England in a friendly match on Wednesday. This is one of the high-profile friendly matches taking place across the world this week. The England manager Roy Hodgson has already named a very different England squad due to the call ups for the Liverpool youngster Sterling and the Crystal Palace winger Zaha. Erik Hamren has said that he will also be opting a similar approach, as he looks to identify the next big thing from Swedish football.

Hamren has also said that he has not heard about the England winger Zaha, who has been spoken of as the next big thing in English football. The Crystal Palace winger has decided to play for England rather than Ivory Coast. At just 20 years of age, he has been playing some of the best football of his career. He could make his debut for England in the match against Sweden, but Hamren has admitted that he does not know a lot about this youngster. Zaha is yet to make a Premier league appearance, but he has already set the world on fire in the Championship.

“Wilfried Zaha? I know some ‘Saha’ but I don’t know if it’s the right one. I have a scout who can fill me in, but for this game I haven’t been so focused on England. For me, it’s more the team than players. It’s the same for Roy Hodgson. Of course, when you have a young and inexperienced player, there have to be some changes. I’m sure he’ll want to play his way of football too. I hope I don’t have a bad surprise with the player. It’s scary what you say,” said the Sweden coach.

MORE FROM ZLATAN

The Paris St Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has said that there are still a lot more people can expect from him because he is yet to reach his peak. The 30-year-old has been one of the best players in the French league so far this campaign. He has already scored 10 goals in the nine matches played for the club after signing during the summer. Even though Paris St Germain signed a number of high profile players, the Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been a standout for Carlo Ancelotti’s men. Just when it was thought that Ibrahimovic could not improve more, he has said that there is still a lot more people can expect from him.

He has said that he still has not reached the full fitness and will be capable of playing even better when he does so. Even though Paris St Germain have struggled in the Champions League this season, they have been one of the teams to beat in the French league. Even though Marseille had a great start to the season, PSG are slowly catching them and are just three points them behind in the table. Further, PSG also remain the only unbeaten team in the division along with Bordeaux and Lorient.

“Each day that you play and every match that you play, you get stronger in experience. I feel I am getting better with each year that passes and I’m playing in a manner that I want to play. The day I stop progressing is the day that I stop playing football. I am not yet at 100 per cent fitness. I’ve scored goals and I’ve played well but I’ve had two matches when I wasn’t good and my teammates know it,” said the Swedish striker after scoring two more goals in the match against Marseille.

MORE TIME NEEDED

The PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has said that the new signings at the club need more time in order to perform well. The Swedish striker was amongst the high-profile signings to arrive at the French club. Even though the 30-year-old might not have cost a lot of money in terms of transfer fees, he is one of the highest earning players in the world due to his reported £ 250,000 per week after tax contract. However, PSG have not performed well in the first few matches of the French league after they have drawn both games. Speaking after the latest match, the Swedish striker said that due to the huge number of signings at the club in the summer, they need to gel in order to perform well.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been the receiver of the biggest criticism, but he has been able to rescue PSG on numerous occasions in the last two matches. He has said that the only way forward for the club is now to win matches. Due to the high profile players, the opposition have been adopting a very defensive style of play. It has been the main reason for PSG not performing well in the opening two matches, but Ibrahimovic expects them to break down opponents easily once they settle.

“I still need some time to be ready. I had a great debut, but I understand that the fans weren’t happy with us trailing 2-0 at half-time. They expected better. I am certain that we have done well in the transfer market. When I came here, the aim of the club was to recruit good players and I see that today we have them. That means we have the platform to build something very special in Paris,” said the former AC Milan striker after the second match of the season.