On Friday I was on hand to photograph the World Cup qualification match between Sweden and Austria. Sweden needed a victory to ensure landing in 2nd place and having a shot at the play off match and Austria was in the same position.
The atmosphere at Friends Arena for this match was really great, and huge step up from previous matches. Previous home games the crowd seemed more sleepy than anything else. This time they brought the same enthusiasm they have when traveling to away matches which was really nice to see.
The match was split down the middle. Austria was much better than Sweden in the first half. It seemed like the majority of the half was played in front of Sweden’s goal. Then in the second half trailing by one goal Sweden came to life. At the center of it of course was Zlatan Ibrahimovic. At this point they could just rename Friends Arena to the Ibra Colosseum. Zlatan set up the equalizing goal and he then scored the match winner. I remember him being through on goal twice. The first time the keeper did well to block his shot. The second time there was nothing doing. That’s the thing with a player like Ibrahimovic. Let him through on goal once and you are playing with fire. Do it twice and you are likely to get punished for it.
Tomorrow night there is the final match of the qualification group and Sweden will meet Germany. In theory the game is rather meaningless as the group is already decided, Germany first and Sweden second. However the Germans aren’t known for going easy in a football game. Plus they are still a little sore over the 4-4 result with Sweden over a year ago. So hopefully the match will prove to more exciting than a friendly.
These images and more available via Pic-Agency.