What’s better than football? Nothing, you might think, in and among the World Cup fever sweeping England right now, but if you ponder hard enough you’ll find the answer.
I’m talking about banter. Good old fashioned, family-friendly patter. Probably the only thing more universal than the beautiful game.
But let’s not cause division right now, because the two can often merge as one, as seen in new footage which emerged from an IKEA branch in Gateshead.
We have Capital FM North East to thank for this brilliant slice of light-hearted #cheeky ribbing. Their crafty sign-swapping is doing the rounds on social media thanks to its #relevant nature.
"We went to IKEA to let the Swedish know that IT'S COMING HOME! ⚽️?"? : Capital North East
Posted by Capital FM on Friday, 6 July 2018
If you’re a Gateshead local, and Swedish, you’ll be surprised to see signs displaying ‘Football Etsokommanhjome’. I’ll let you take a wild guess at what that means.
Is it coming home though? Let’s not get too hasty. I mean it definitely is. Don’t worry. But at the same time, Sweden are tricky customers when it comes to crunch time.
The side arrived in Russia without a win in six games, no goal in 337 minutes and bereft of national treasure, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
24th in Fifa’s rankings – 12 places below England – Sweden now find themselves two wins away from a first final since 1958.
This is Sweden’s first World Cup in 12 years. Their last appearance was when they made it to the last 16 in Germany in 2006, a campaign which, luck would have it, included a 90th-minute equaliser by Henrik Larsson in a 2-2 group draw with England.
Their campaign to qualify for Russia 2018 was scrappy but ultimately impressive. They beat France and four-time champions Italy 1-0 to finish runners-up in their group.
It was the first time Italy had failed to qualify for a World Cup since 1958.
In Russia, Sweden were placed in Group F along with world champions Germany, Mexico and South Korea and finished top with six points before beating Switzerland 1-0 in the last 16.
So, in essence, Sweden might be more of a team than they were at Euro 2012 when we last met them at a major tournament.
We still smashed them 3-2 mind you, but y’know…
Southgate himself told The Sun of the upcoming fixture:
The lads would always be prepared to risk injury for these games but that can’t be to the detriment of the performance level.
When it gets to these games, they’re not as honest as they might be about how fit they are.
So you need a racehorse trainer’s eye at times to really try and sort that out.
It’s not straightforward, we won’t see everything but we’ll have a feel from what they’re reporting and the way they’re running and try to make the best decisions we can.
Dele was absolutely fine after the game. I think the extra couple of days were really helpful for him. Young and Walker, we’ve no reason to believe they’re serious issues.
But there are two or three in particular we’ve got to assess quite closely and see exactly what level they’re at. If we’ve got players that are 75 per cent, then the guys at 100 per cent who haven’t been in the team deserve to come in.
At this stage, it is about minimal time on the pitch — the downside being we can’t push the players enough to see whether they’re OK. We’ll have to make late decisions.
Let’s do it lads.
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