Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof was on the wrong end of a humiliating international defeat with Sweden.
The past year has been a frankly awful one for Sweden’s national team. Having reached the knockout stages of World Cup 2018 and Euro 2020, the post-Zlatan years have not been so kind.
Last year they failed to qualify for World Cup 2022, something they hoped to write off as a one-off. Instead their efforts to qualify for Euro 2024 ended in failure during the past international break, with Belgium qualifying from their group along with Austria’s Ralf Rangnick.
Last night they reached a new low when they took on Azerbaijan and slumped to a 3-0 defeat, with Victor Lindelof captaining the side.
Swedish press react to loss
Victor Lindelof’s role in the loss was heavily scrutinised, with the Manchester United defender described as being at fault for one of Azerbaijan’s opening goals as they took a 2-0 lead inside the first six minutes, which Sweden did not bounce back from.
Fotbol Skanalen described the defeat as a ‘spectacular fiasco’, losing to a team classified 120th in the FIFA World Rankings.
The outlet criticised Lindelof for losing the ball just outside the penalty area early in the match, leading directly to a goal.
Lindelof was given a 1/5 in the outlet’s player ratings, which noted: “The captain put his team in a tough spot when he conceded 1-0 to Azerbaijan early on. An unusually weak international match by the centre back.”
The defender saw plenty of the ball, making 106 touches in total, but it was totally ineffective as his side lost 3-0. Lindelof won only one tackle, and just two of six aerial duels.
Swedish writer Olof Lundh wrote: “I can’t remember the last time Sweden made such a weak effort.”
Roony Bardghji pressure grows
Sweden did not select Copenhagen wonderkid Rooney Bardghji for their national squad, despite his impressive season which saw him score a winning goal in the Champions League against Manchester United last week. Their defeat will heighten calls for this to change in 2024.
Bardghji, who has 11 goals this season, said: “I don’t agree to be honest. How much more do you have to do as a 17-year-old to get a place?”
He was complimented by Victor Lindelof in the lead-up to the game, who told the Swedish media: “For my own part, it wasn’t fun, but it’s very fun that a young Swedish player can get up to that level and do well. For Swedish football, it’s a lot of fun.
“I haven’t seen much of him, but from what I saw during the match, I saw that he has great qualities. And I had a little chat with him after the game. He seems like a calm and nice guy.”