Georgia vs Sweden by Sweem
The second group stage round begins, and it enters vital stages immediately when Georgia and Sweden will look for their first win. Both sides are coming from losses in the opening day.
Let us begin with the hosts - This generation of Georgia belongs to one of the more promising generations the country have had in recent years. Giorgi Chakvetadze, a 17 year old attacking midfielder from Dinamo Tbilisi showed his brilliance against Portugal before leaving the pitch due to injury.
He will be examined by doctors intensively to be able to participate in the clash versus Sweden. The Shakthar winger, Giorgi Arabidze, who also have senior caps for Georgia, was the star of the game against Portugal with his constant threat with his left foot and quick acceleration, while also giving the audience some eye candy nutmegs and neat skill.
Giorgi Kipiani is a young modern coach, with his 38 years of age, he has a good domestic knowledge after coaching Metalurgi Rustavi between 2012-2013. Although his squad consist of players from domestic league - the Georgian talent pool is heavily underestimated, which is why their U21 and U19 usually stand up well against more famous nations.
He had his side fired up and looking incredibly sharp versus a strong Portuguese side on paper, but they looked pale performance wise. Portugal won after a penalty early in the second half, which came after a sequence of many dangerous Georgian chances. Suddenly Portugal had some breathing room, and Georgia came close several times but just missed the detail in the finishing end. It was clear that the Georgian team took the loss very harsh - you could see midfielder Giorgi Kutsia openly cry for costing his team a penalty.
There is a lot of will and heart in the group, who ended the match by having more than twice as many finishing attempts than Portugal. That fact alone is a shift in Georgian football, after usually being a 'defense first' mentality. All in all, it is a nation on the rise in footballing terms, especially from the younger ages.
Sweden are in the tournament without many important players, mainly due to the various clubs not letting their players attend the championship, but also due to some individual players who have rejected the opportunity to join. Attacking midfielder Haris Haskabanovic now represents Montenegro, which excludes him from Sweden. Attacking midfielder Mattias Svanberg is considered a important piece in Malmo FF and have been denied by the club to attend the Swedish national side. Also the Dortmund striker Alexander Isak is not available. If that was not enough, the most solid wing back Felix Beijmo has also been stopped by his club, Djurgarden.
What remains in this revamped Swedish squad then? Viktor Gyokeres is an interesting striker, and plays for Brommapojkarna in the Swedish second tier (Superettan). Compare that to Alexander Isak, who is playing for Dortmund, or Mattias Svanberg who are playing for a Champions League chasing Malmo side. There are some significant absentees especially up front in this Swedish U19 team. This is far from the same team who qualified into the tournament in the first place, and they truly lack consistency (and quality) to be considered favorites.
The Swedes did not get a good start, after their 1-2 loss against a sharper Czech Republic team, and the game versus the host nation Georgia will be of the absolute greatest importance. The fact still remains that Sweden are in the tournament with a secondary squad - as they are missing their top valueable players, not leaving a fair situation for coach Claes Eriksson, who has been in charge since 2011, and typically plays a straight 4-4-2 formation.
Georgia fell just short despite impressing more than Portugal. It was a good indicator of what this generation can do. All of the Georgian players have raised their market value already, and should be scouted with much interest. The tournament is not over - but they have to beat Sweden in order to continue the dream in front of their home fans. This is a group who are more consistent, and more technically gifted than the Swedes - and not least, more offensively dangerous. The edge for Sweden is their organisational structure and physicality - but will struggle in the humid weather in Georgia. The host nation have more than good chances to discard the much weakened Swedish team, and I would even say they should be more favored.