Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic (L) scores a goal past France's Philippe Mexes (R) and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris during their Group D Euro 2012 soccer match at the Olympic stadium in Kiev, June 19, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Eddie Keogh)
France had an opportunity to seal up Group D and faceoff against Italy in the Quarter Finals with a victory Tuesday over underdog Sweden.
However, the French did as they have been accustomed to doing in past major tournaments: choked. Despite a 2-0 loss against Sweden in which nothing went well, the French moved on by virtue of a Ukrainian loss and will get to play Spain for all their efforts.
Like Us on Facebook
France's offense, which is led by such talent as Samir Nasri, Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema, and Yann M'Villa, is among the most talented sides in the tournament. However, the French were unable to generate any offense throughout the 90+ minutes of their match against Sweden.
Coming into the game, Sweden was already eliminated from contention after two losses to the Ukraine and England. Reports stated that the Swedish players had already packed its bags and would be leaving soon after the match. As a result, many had doubts about the seriousness that Sweden would bring to the match. However, it was the Swedish who looked more involved in the match.
Sweden's big moment came from Captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is well noted for his arrogance and questionable effort on both sides of the field. However, no one will ever deny the 6'5" striker's offense talent and Ibrahimovic made sure that no one had any doubts when he scored in the 54th minute off an acrobatic volley. The goal was easily the goal of the tournament.
France would press and attempt to create opportunities, but most went wide. France had 24 shots on goal, but 14 went off target. The Gauls controlled possession for much of the match, but were constantly frustrated by a relentless Swedish defense that was intent on keeping them away from the goal. Most of the French opportunities were from long range blast, with few opportunities penetrating the penalty area.
Sweden, however, was not ready to sit on its laurels and secured the victory on a counterattack in the waning moments of the match. Swedish substitute Samuel Holden took a shot that bounced off the cross bar straight to Sebastian Larsson who energetically blasted the rebound into the back of the net to secure a 2-0 lead for Sweden.
Next up, France takes on Spain in the Quarter Finals. France eliminated the Spaniards on route to winning the 2000 Euro Cup and was also at fault for Spain's elimination from the 2006 World Cup. However, times have since changed with Spain being the defending Euro Cup and World Cup champions. Spain will likely control possession throughout the match, forcing France, who is used to controlling ball possession to sit back and wait for a counterattack. The match will be played Saturday afternoon and the winner will take on the Portugal-Czech Republic victor.