For all the hype surrounding Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Sweden striker hasn't managed a single shot on goal over 180 minutes of soccer at the European Championship.
For all the hype surrounding Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Sweden striker hasn’t managed a single shot on goal over 180 minutes of soccer at the European Championship.
But then, neither have any of his teammates.
It’s a worrying statistic for coach Erik Hamren, whose team faces a struggle to advance as it prepares to face Belgium in their final Group E match on Wednesday.
”We would be more happy if we scored some goals,” Hamren said Friday after the 1-0 defeat to Italy, which left his team with only one point from two games.
”We’re doing our best. We were close to scoring against Ireland a few times.”
Sweden has only found the net once at the tournament, an own-goal conceded by Ireland in a 1-1 draw. While the team pressed Italy at the Stadium de Toulouse, especially in the first half, Sweden lacked sharpness in front of goal.
Hamren said he was impressed overall with Sweden’s defending and played down its poor finishing by saying that ”even Belgium didn’t score against Italy.”
But he did regret the lack of scoring opportunities.
”We didn’t create enough chances that we needed,” he said. ”We got into the box at times, but we struggled to create.”
Italy coach Antonio Conte also referred to Sweden’s attacking woes, without being asked about them.
”I don’t remember Sweden having a shot on goal,” Conte said. ”I don’t recall (goalkeeper) Gianluigi Buffon ever making a save.”
Hamren put it down to Italy’s strong defending and effectively shutting down Ibrahimovic, Sweden’s main threat in the match. And when Ibrahimovic looked to get a break, he was adjudged to be offside on several occasions.
”Everyone’s offside at one time or another,” Hamren said. ”That’s football.”
The Sweden coach kept it simple when asked what was needed against Belgium on Wednesday at the Stade de Nice.
”We have to do better offense if we are to win the game,” Hamren said. “That’s what we need to do.”