The performance of Martin Olsson was definitely the biggest positive for the Swedes. He was the standout player for the side and the Irish right flank just not being able to handle him. The Norwich City man was Sweden’s most ambitious player and was the bright spot in an otherwise underwhelming displayThe Swedes failed to impress for the majority of the game and really need to up the ante for them to be a real threat in this tournament. The glaring weakness seems to be the rather insipid midfield which was a sorry sight all afternoon.Kim Källström, noted for his passing abilities, was unable to deliver on that front. He misplaced 20 passes, didn’t create chances, making only one key pass, and wasn’t able to switch play with good long balls. He was also dispossessed twice in the midfield. Sebastian Larsson put in the hard work but offered little in terms of creativity. Oscar Lewicki worked hard defensively but didn’t keep the midfield ticking or create an offensive spark. Emil Forsberg, a fantastic player, didn’t live up to the tag of being the “rising star.” It was an extremely poor performance from the midfielders and Hamrén should look at making some adjustments.He could opt for 26-year-old Albin Ekdal for the next game. He did well in the friendly games recently and has shown good movement on the pitch. The Hamburg player could do a better job than Källström, who at 33 years of age, simply looks not cut out for the highest level anymore. 23-year-old Oscar Hiljemark played regularly for Palermo last season is the wild-card option for the centre midfielder spot. While Ekdal’s performances oscillate between brilliant and terrible which carries some risk, Hiljemark is more consistent of the two. The other advantage with the Palermo player is his propensity to do layoffs and spot the key pass. He also keeps ticking the game by playing short passes. Or Hamrén could opt for both new faces and see if that alteration works.This game also proved why it is time the Sweden boss lets go of the idea of playing possession based football. The team lacks the quality and skill in the side to break up the defensive organization and pass their way into doing the same. Ibrahimovic is the only player with that quality but he has to play a deeper role to do the same. It makes little sense why Hamrén is not playing the side to its strength of counter-attacking football as the players actually look threatening while doing that.
Sweden’s danger moments all came from fast play and the good use of the flanks with Martin Olsson particularly effective in this regard. The Swedish academies produce tactically intelligent players who can play well within a given system which is clear given how they’re even trying to make this possession based style work, but it remains a mystery why he is not playing to the squad’s strength. Is it because it makes Ibrahimovic play a shadow striker role and orchestrate the attack in the final third because it asks lesser of the 34-year-old’s legs? If this is the sole reason, this seems extremely counterproductive because it is restricting the team from playing their best football. Whatever the reason is, it isn’t working.Hamren needs to be ambitious now if he wants his last tournament to be a successful one. He needs to make changes and do so quickly. Relying on the brilliance of Zlatan alone is seemingly an erroneous notion.