Next stop Werder Bremen?
We Swedes like to pride ourselves of having gotten rid of nationalism, that ol' primitive sentiment, so obsolete in this wonderful ”globalized”, ”multicultural” and so perfectly politically correct world of ours. On the contrary, we have something of a national masochistic tendency. Like no others, we Swedes like to talk down our own homeland, in the company or our countrymen and also out in that ww. Flag-waving and chauvinism á la France or the United States, that stuff is not our style – oh no, we're a bit more sophisticated than that. It's gone so far that many Swedes have become weary of anything blue and yellow, for fear of appearing as racist crypto-nazis, when, in actuality, they are really kind and considerate, contemporary and multi-cultural human beings of prime standard. Never for a second did I buy that crap. In reality, we're just as nationalistic a tribe any I've come across, even if we're better than most at disguising it. It comes into bright and open air, for example, in childish activities such as sports, movies or any kind of public event where Swedes are up against international competition. Swedish Hollowood type cast freaks such as Peter Stormare and Stellan Skarsgård are routinely called ”stars”. A Swedish movie deserving (as nearly all of them) of one or zero points on a scale of five is automatically given thrree or even four in our domestic press – for the sake of some crypto-nationalistic forgiving ”kindness”. In sports, our entire population can suddenly become overnight afficionados, or so it seems, for goofy nerd pastimes such as biathlon, floor hockey or curling, just for the reason that some Swedes have happened to be succesful in the Olympics or World Championships in these ”sports”, while a major game such as basketball, where we suck, is met with compact silence and ignorance.
Rarely is this complex more obvious than in the case of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, our first major soccer star in modern times. When this young lad last seson managed to score a few goals against weaker opposition for his Juventus in the Italian Serie A, and a couple of more or less lucky, if decisive, strikes for our national side, a marathon debate was immediately on in our media: wasn't Zlatan actually the world's greatest footballer – perhaps even the greatest of all times? This season, it´s been more difficult, as the guy has produced only a miserable handful of unglamorous goals. In the past month or so, some brave football writers have finally dared to drop the grim analysis that perhaps he's been a little ”down” and ”unfocused” lately. Since I've seen all of Juventus´ Champions League games this winter, I can tell you the truth: the guy has been terrible, even horrible. The reason, I'm pretty sure, is simple: the defenders have now read Zlatan's limited arsenal and will no longer go for his moves and tricks. You get a distinct feeling that we sometime soon might be seing the lad not in Juventus' black and white stripe, but in the brigher colors of, let's say, Werder Bremen...
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