Swedish Football – Kristoffer Olsson is Vital for Sweden
When Kristoffer Olsson got his opportunity to start for the Swedish national team, there were not many who believed that he would take his chance with open arms. Many questioned having a small and technically talented playmaker in the heart of midfield for Sweden – a team that have been successful thanks to their collective robust approach. There were many who thought Olsson would be the weak link for Sweden, but they were all wrong.
He Has Not Looked Back
In November 2018, Olsson started against Russia in a Nations League match and when he was substituted with just minutes left to play, he walked off the field to a standing ovation. Sweden won the game and the AIK player, who then went on to sign for Krasnodar, played really well. He has not looked back and now he is a key component in Sweden’s midfield. Since that game against Russia, Olsson has started all but one competitive game for Sweden.
The one exception was when Janne Andersson decided to field a more defensive team for a Euro 2020 qualifier against Spain in Madrid. Sweden did not get a sniff in the game and went on to lose the game 3-0. He played all the other qualifiers and helped Sweden to qualify for the Euros.
It Was Not a New Experience for Him
Olsson had experienced exactly the same thing when he played for the U21s Sweden team in Euro 2015 qualifiers. He scored three goals against Turkey that helped Sweden qualify for a play-off against France, but he was put on the bench. Sweden went on to lose the first leg 2-0, and he started the second leg and helped Sweden to a 4-1 victory – they went on to lift the trophy. In 2017, he was the captain of the U21s team, and they qualified for the Euros again.
His Early Life as a Footballer
Olsson was raised in Norrköping, which is a city that has a very proud football heritage as IFK Norrköping were Sweden’s dominant football team back in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Olsson started his footballing career at Sleipner, the city’s lesser club, but he signed for IFK when he was ten and was recognised right away as a player with a lot of talent. He was chosen to play for the national U17s team when he was 15 and put in a solid performance.
In 2013, Olsson made the move to England where he signed with Arsenal. He made his first appearance for Arsenal’s first team in a League Cup match against West Brom, and scored from the spot during a penalty shootout to see his team through to the next round. His main aim was to play for Arsenal in the Premier League, but he did not get another chance to play for the first team, and in 2014 he joined Midtjylland on loan.
After just three months, he signed for them permanently for three years, but he suffered a big setback in 2015 when he broke his leg. Olsson, who was 19 at the time, came back stronger and did very well during his first season with Midtjylland. He got plenty of game time and put in an impressive performance when they beat Southampton in the Europa League to book a Round of 32 meeting with English giants Manchester United. The Danish team won the first leg 2-1 but lost the second and were knocked out.
His Fortunes Changed and Then Changed Back Again
Fast forward a year and Olsson was struggling to get into the Midtjylland side. He knew his time at the Danish club was coming to an end, so he requested a transfer back to Norrköping. However, they had paid Arsenal a large transfer fee for Olsson, and Norrköping were unable to afford the asking price. Instead, AIK, a team based in Stockholm, had recently sold Alexander Isak for an AIK record transfer fee of just under £8 million, saw something in him and paid the high asking price.
In 2017, the sceptics were having a field day because he was struggling to find rhythm in the team. The press were on his back and the fans did not think much of him. His goal-scoring odds on betting sites like bettingonlinesverige.se were at an embarrassing all-time low. However, their coach, Rikard Norling, had faith in him and this paid off. Olsson went on to have a much better second half of the campaign and started scoring goals. AIK finished second behind Malmö FF.
In 2018, everything came together and AIK built their team around Olsson. When Sebastian Larsson signed for them that summer, they had the best midfield in Sweden. A few months later, AIK won the league title and Olsson was a key reason for this. He did not have time to celebrate though because the day after they won the title, he had to report for international duty as Sweden had two important games for the Nations League.
In 2019, he joined Krasnodar and helped them to reach the Champions League for the very first time.
Concern about His Form for Euro 2020
There was concern among Swedish fans about Olsson’s form heading into Euro 2020 as they do not have any other player who can fill the position the same way that he can. Sweden’s first game in the tournament was a tough match against Spain, and Olsson started and put in a very good shift to help keep Spain out. The game finished 0-0, and Swedish fans are probably a little bit more relaxed about the form of one of their key players.
Sources: fcm.dk / reuters.com