Latvians for the first time in history reached the semi-finals of the World Cup. They took advantage of the removal of Russia.
At the World Championship, which takes place in Riga and Tampere, there was a major playoff sensation. The Latvian national team for the first time in its history reached the semi-finals of the World Cup, nailing the self-confident Sweden.
But the Swedes, even before the game, said that they would deal with an outsider without any problems. The Tre Krunur team believed too much in their own strength and disgraced themselves at the tournament, which takes place without Russia.
Latvia was given access to the playoffs
The national team of Latvia, not without a share of luck, made it to the playoffs at the last moment. The Latvians needed to score at least one point against Switzerland in order to move Slovakia and continue the fight for home World Cup medals. At the same time, the Slovaks were hardly worried about their position in the standings, because Switzerland was undefeated by that moment.
However, the outcome of the match surprised everyone: Latvia unexpectedly beat the favorite in overtime. After the game, many experts began to accuse the losing team of giving the host country the desired result. Switzerland was engaged in the whole meeting incomprehensibly and was not like a team that had previously been skating against all rivals in the group stage.
Photo: © Eurasia Sport Images / Contributor / Getty Images Sport / Gettyimages.ru
Latvia’s entry into the playoffs already looked like a victory for this modest team. A victory, which, however, had a specific smell. After all, if it were not for the sanctions against Russia, the tournament would have been held in St. Petersburg instead of Riga, and the Latvians would almost certainly not have made it to the playoffs. It is clear that Latvian fans and journalists do not remember this, celebrating the achievement as full and real.
In the quarterfinals, the Latvians were waiting for Sweden, which came to the World Cup for gold. And it is unlikely that even the most devoted fans of the Baltic team hoped for a positive outcome. Moreover, the Swedes stumbled only once in the group stage, losing in overtime to the United States. In other matches, the Scandinavians won confident victories, including over the reigning champions – the Finnish team.
The self-confidence of the Scandinavians
Only an injury to Washington defender Rasmus Sandin, who injured his knee the day before, could make life difficult for the Swedes before the quarterfinals. However, even without Sandin, who made one assist in seven matches, Sweden should have dealt with an outsider without any problems. The Scandinavians themselves openly declared this self-confidently.
— I definitely think that we will beat Latvia. However, we must not miss our chances,” Sweden defender Jonathan Pudas told Sportbladet before the match.
“We are a much better team. We are going to win the quarter-finals against Latvia ten times out of ten,” said Swedish goalkeeper Lars Johansson.
However, the Swedes did not surprise anyone with such statements. Scandinavians throughout the tournament behaved self-confidently. For example, the same Sandin laughed at the goalkeeper of Finland after the victory. Sooner or later, such behavior was bound to play a cruel joke on Tre Krunur. And it so happened that the Latvian national team landed the Swedes on the ground.
From self-confidence to tears in 60 minutes
The Scandinavians reached the quarterfinals, showing with all their appearance that they were going to run the outsider on one skate. In energy-saving mode, the Swedes spent only half of the first period with impunity, and then, during the next attack of the Latvian national team, keeper Johansson faltered after an accurate throw by Dans Lochmelis.
The missed puck became a cold shower for the Swedes, which made the Scandinavians shake themselves up and finally start playing. It took Tre Krunur almost 20 minutes of playing time to bounce back until Toronto guard Timothy Lilliegren scored midway through the second period. Surprisingly, after that, Sweden again began to play as if Latvia would give up the match itself.
However, this did not happen, and the Latvians nailed the Swedes in the third period. First, Mix Indrashis led the hosts ahead, and then Janis Jaks converted the majority. Sweden in the remaining time tried to correct the situation, but the opponent competently went on the defensive. As a result, the hosts managed to sit out in defense, and the Latvian national team for the first time in its history reached the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Photo: © Joel Marklund / Keystone Press Agency / Global Look Press
The state of the Swedish national team was best conveyed by Lukas Raymond, who could not control his emotions and cried after the final siren. True, this did not save Raymond and Tre Krunur from criticism of his compatriots. So, the legend of Swedish hockey Jonas Bergqvist walked the toughest on the national team.
“I just don’t see the passion in this generation of players. I didn’t care if we were playing against Denmark, Hungary or France. Passion and pleasure from the game should be in every match. If the players don’t care, why should we bother anymore? Bergqvist harshly criticized his compatriots.
It is not surprising that Tre Krunur came out to play without the proper attitude. Although it was a quarter-final, the level of the opponent subconsciously weakens the favorites. However, at the World Cup without Russia, this is already a familiar picture. Top teams believe that once again you can not strain. Without our national team, the rest of the teams relaxed, and Sweden proved it once again. In the list of the main disappointments of the tournament, Tre Krunur are not alone: they were accompanied by Switzerland, which sensationally lost to the Germans.
And now the Canadians, who have gone further, will play in the semi-finals against Latvia, and the US team will meet with Germany. And if at the World Cup, when Russia participated, this stage was considered one of the most spectacular, now for the North American teams it looks formal on the way to the match for gold.
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