Our new stadium is brilliant, Fulham's Alexander Kacaniklic is ace and Roy is a hero - a Swedish football fan on why tonight's game is a big deal
A friendly game in november, with four months to go to the next World Cup qualifier. In advance, it sounds about as exciting as looking at Martin Jol's face for 25 minutes straight. But there are exceptions to the rule. Like when Sweden's arch rival number one England is the opponent. The matches against "the three lions" always feel special and there are five reasons why this event is no exception.
Firstly - the match will be played on the brand new Friends Arena, which is the national team's new nest after the move from Råsunda, where we have played since 1937. The new impressive stadium holds 50,000 spectators and I can guarantee that even the Premier League stars will be hugely impressed of the arena.
Secondly - if there is any national team Sweden really want to beat, it's England. Aside the unfortunate (well, actually ...) defeat against you in the European Championship, we have very impressive stats against you. Not a single loss in a competitive match in 40 years against you is something that every Swede is proud of.
Third - Roy Hodgson is immensely popular amongst Swedes. He is a four-time Swedish champion with Halmstad BK (1976 and 1979) and Malmö FF (1986 and 1988) and speaks fluent Swedish. The fact that the respected gentleman is the manager of the England national team gives the game an extra spice.
For the fourth - which is the Swedish national team's true colors? It it is the team which collapsed totally in the first hour of the last game against Germany in Berlin when we were down 0–4 without even touching the ball? Or the brave Vikings who spat in their hands and did 4-0 against the same Germany side in the last half hour?
Fifth - Zlatan is Zlatan, an artist who get Swedes flocking to the stadium to have a closer look at his tricks and flicks. On Monday he was named the year's best male soccer player for the seventh time - a record that likely to hold up for many, many years to come. After being suspended in Ligue 1 last weekend because of a red card against Saint Etienne, it's a decent game craving captain which will start against the country that is most skeptical about his skills. It is nearly exclusively English journalists who question Zlatan's greatness and he will be eager to close their mouths once and for all. And before the game, he had a lot of praise for Fulham's left winger Alexander Kacaniklic. He is the new rising star on the Swedish football horizon after his great season so far in Fulham and he knows better than anyone what it's like to take advantage of english fullbacks. I would not be surprised if Ibrahimovic/Kacaniklic set up a goal or two against you. Remember where you read it first ...