Other Sports: Sweden game like a final, Poland coach Sousa says


ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) – Poland coach Paulo Sousa says his team’s decisive Euro 2020 Group E clash against Sweden will require his players to focus as if they were playing for the trophy itself.

After losing their opening game to Slovakia 2-1, Poland got their campaign back on track with a 1-1 draw against Spain, and must now beat Sweden to reach the knockout stages.

“For us this is a final and we need to focus as if it was a final,” Sousa told reporters on Tuesday.

“We want to have the same mentality everywhere, when we play at home, when we play abroad.”

That could be also helped by the team’s fans who travelled in large numbers to St Petersburg and Seville and could be heard by the players throughout the games against Slovakia and Spain.

“Fans are vital, looking at the examples of Hungary and Denmark,” Sousa said. “We never feel (like) playing away.”

Poland drew with Spain on Saturday evening while Sweden defeated Slovakia on Friday afternoon, leaving Sousa’s team with 30 hours less recovery time.

“Some players are not completely recovered,” the coach said.

“Mentally against Spain we spent a lot of energy.”

Sweden have played seven games this year, winning six and conceding only one goal. They are already guaranteed a spot in the knockout stages and are aiming to finish as group winners.

“Numbers say many things about Sweden,” Sousa said. “Sweden know how to keep the ball, how to counter-attack… They are rich tactically. I don’t think Sweden are relaxed.”

Poland central midfielder Mateusz Klich agreed with his coach.

“It seems to me that they will not let us go,” Klich said. “If we carry out our plan, everything should be fine.”

(Reporting by Bartosz Dabrowski and Silvia Recchimuzzi in Gdansk, editing by Ed Osmond)

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