Newcastle United – Emil at Euro: Krafth wants to make it the dream of a night in the middle of Sweden
After one of the country’s biggest annual celebration weekends, Emil Krafth hopes to play a part in extending the party by helping Sweden reach the Euro 2020 quarter-finals.
the Blågult will face Ukraine at Hampden Park on Tuesday night (kick off 8 p.m. BST) after finishing first in Group E, where they drew with Spain and beat Poland and Slovakia from colleague Martin Dúbravka .
They reached the last eight of the World Cup three years ago and now they are looking to repeat the feat – and set up a clash with England or Germany at Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Earlier this month was Sveriges nationaldag, Sweden’s national day, while the two-day Midsommar (midsummer) festivities took place across the country this weekend, and Krafth – addressing nufc.fr from the team’s tournament base camp – insisted they will approach the game with the intention of giving the nation even more to raise a glass until next week.
“We have a good feeling. We won the group, ahead of Spain – I think nobody expected us to do that – and we are confident for the next game against Ukraine,” he said. -he declares. “We know it’s going to be a tough game; it doesn’t matter which team you play against, any team after the group stage is a tough game, and we would like to play better football, but football is about results We ‘I won and won the group, so we are happy.
“It always gives you a boost of confidence, winning games and winning the group. In a way, it would actually be better for us if we had finished second – then we would have played against Denmark (in Amsterdam). , and we could have had a lot of Swedish fans, whereas now, by finishing first, we play more in Glasgow, where few Swedes are allowed to go.
“People living in Sweden cannot travel abroad to the UK so we hope the Swedes who live in Scotland, England and nearby will come to the match to support us as much as possible.
“Of course Newcastle is not too far from Glasgow so we would be very happy if (the Newcastle fans) came to watch us – and if they can bring a yellow jersey too!”
Sweden camp is in Gothenburg in the southwest of the country, which means the team is aware of the public reaction to their fourth appearance in the round of 16 at the European Championships – and their first since 2004. The Zlatan talisman Ibrahimovic missed the tournament with a knee injury, but Alexander Isak, Emil Forsberg and Victor Lindelöf were among the best players in the competition.
“You read all the news and you hear people talking about it,” Krafth said. “I think they have higher expectations of us now, because we did very well in the last World Cup. They expected us to come through the squad – maybe won – we don’t have this group like we did, but they have higher expectations than before, say.
Sweden secured top spot in Group E with a thrilling 3-2 win over Poland last week
“But it’s something that we like as a team – playing under pressure. We want people to have high expectations of us because I think we’re a very good team, so that’s good.”
While confidence is high in Sweden, Ukraine finished third in Group C, sneaking up with the three points they collected against North Macedonia in their second game, and Krafth admitted: “I think that we’re a bit of a favorite, maybe, but like I said it doesn’t matter which team we have – all games are now very, very tough so I think we have to put in a really big performance to beat them .
“They also have the potential to qualify; they have very good players all over the field, but I think if we can put in a really good performance we could advance to the quarter-finals.”
Janne Andersson’s training sessions over the past few days have focused on this goal, but there have been some lighter moments as well, including video footage showing Krafth repeatedly in the lead by his teammates over the past week.
“We have a one-touch play before practice, and whoever loses gets a hit around the ear or on the forehead or on the nose or something like that,” Krafth explained.
“I’m actually pretty good at it, but sometimes you just get out of luck and lose, and you have to take your punishment. I just had bad luck that they got it in the pictures and on the video! “.
Middle is a celebration of the summer solstice, where people eat, drink, pick flowers and sing and dance around the Maypoles for two days – Midsommarafton and Middle (summer day).
In the middle of a European Championship, the festivities for the national team players were relatively subdued, but they still enjoyed a trip to a lodge to mark the occasion.
“We had lunch as a team together, then we came back (to the base) and played a little golf in the afternoon, then in the evening we had the meal you eat on the Swedish midsommar, and a little barbecue too, ”Krafth explained.
Traditional food is threshold (marinated herring), served with potatoes, gravlax (salted salmon), chives, sour cream and knäckebröd (crusty bread), with jordgubbstårta (strawberry cake) for dessert, and Krafth added, “It’s one thing I miss when you’re here – to celebrate midsommar with your family and friends because it’s a good tradition that we have and it’s really nice to see all your friends and have a few drinks.
“But it wasn’t that bad to be here and relax for a day, to be with the boys and do whatever you wanted to do during the day.
Krafth has so far appeared in all three Swedish matches of Euro 2020 (photograph courtesy of Svenska Fotbollförbundet)
“It’s very intense during the time here and if they can give you a day off every now and then it’s great to relax your body and your brain from everything, and not think about football. think it helps us a lot, not just being focused on football all the time. Sometimes you need to get away from football. “
Krafth, however, is enjoying his football right now, and life too. He finished last season strong, starting the last four games and helping to keep two clean sheets in three wins, as well as scoring his first goal for the club in a close loss to champions Manchester City, and although he has not yet started a match at Euro 2020, he came off the bench in all three group matches.
“At the end of the season, me and the team performed very well and I came here for the Euro with good confidence. We (him and his partner, Lina) are expecting another child in September, so everything will work out. going well and I’m very happy, “he smiled.
“It’s been a long season – since I came to Newcastle we’ve had two seasons in a row (because of Covid-19) and then you jump into the Euro so I can’t wait to take some time to see friends and family after Euro because I haven’t seen my daughter for a month now. Of course you miss them and want to hang out with them when you have your days off after the Euro Then I hope you will come back fresh for the preseason and next season.
“But when you come this far, you want to go all the way. We want to try to push ourselves and go as far as possible.”
“It’s something that we love as a team – playing under pressure. We want people to have high expectations of us because I think we’re a very good team.”