SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The two Sweden forwards likely to start in Saturday’s quarter-final against England may have only one World Cup goal between them so far, but Swedish pundit Bojan Djordjic says that won’t bother Janne Andersson’s men in the slightest.
The former Manchester United, Rangers and Red Star Belgrade midfielder is an outspoken presence in Sweden and on club channel MUTV, and he says there is more to Marcus Berg and Ola Toivonen than just goals.
“When you play a 4-4-2 in the shape or the formation that Sweden play, the strikers are going to be the ones that suffer the most when you go to attack,” he told Reuters.
“They are so compact, they work so hard to protect the midfielders - when you put so much work into it like Toivonen and Berg do, you lose that little bit of energy when you get your chance.
“For the forwards, the pressure to score goals in those one or two chances becomes more, but people don’t actually understand the way Janne wants his team to play.”
Calls for Berg and Emil Forsberg, who despite his winning goal in the last 16 against Switzerland has yet to reach his usual high level in Russia, to be dropped make no sense to the 36-year-old Djordjic, who won a Swedish league title with AIK.
“They need to trust Berg and Forsberg, they made the quarter-finals and they need to stick with the same team,” the Serbian-born Swede said.
“Maybe we should have made more of the fact that, after seeing off Holland (in qualifying), Italy (in a playoff) and Germany, nobody wants to play against Sweden - it’s a tough thing to do,” he said.
Though he only made a handful of appearances for Manchester United, the well-traveled Djordjic is remembered there as a precocious talent and winner of the Jimmy Murphy award for the best young player at Old Trafford in 2000.
Asked to predict how the quarter-final would pan out, Djordjic said he was going with his heart and the country that he grew up in.
“Every game Sweden have played, they give the other team possession, even the last group game against Mexico - we only had 33 percent of the ball, Sweden, but we still beat them 3-0,” he said.
“England fans keep singing ‘It’s coming home’, but the only thing that’s coming home is the England players on Saturday night!”
Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Christian Radnedge