Sweden v Belarus – Under-21 Euro 2009
Belarus will have good memories of their opening games having upset Italy 2-1 in the 2004 edition. However the eastern Europeans missed out on a semi-final place that time and will hope to better their performance in this edition.
Belarus made it to this stage of the competition by beating Turkey 2-1 on aggregate in the play-offs. As was the case in the qualifiers, Belarus will rely on the pace and ingenuity of playmaker Sergei Kryvets to guide them through the group stages.
Sweden have become rusty simply because they have not featured in any competitive youth game since October 2006 when they were beaten 5-0 by Serbia in the play-off game that decided participants for the previous version of this competition in Netherlands.
This year, they have qualified automatically as hosts and will hope to give a good account of themselves in front of home fans. Co-coached by Tommy Soderberg and Jorgen Lennartsson, Sweden have many exciting young talents at their disposal including Pontus Wernbloom and striker Marcus Berg.
Hopes will be particularly high from the latter as he has starred for Dutch FC Groningen. Berg scored 17 goals in this season for the club and fans will hope that his form will continue into this tournament as well.
Back to the Under-21 Euro 2009 page.