Team Profile: Finland and their steady hopes
Finland is set to enter the European Championships with a chance to break out in a weaker group to start with. The team is keen to make the most of their games to open up the contest as they take part in the finals of a major football tourney for the first time in the history of the sport.
The Finns have named their 26-man roster for the coming contest despite having some injury issues. The team is ready to take on the biggest tourney in Europe, and they are keen to roll against the best of teams that the contest has to offer.
Striker Teemu Pukki and captain Tim Sparv headline the roster for Finland. It seems they picked their players well heading into the tourney and they want to make sure they get the best stars out there for their games.
Sparv has been out since the end of March with a knee injury. He played a total of 45 minutes in their 2-0 friendly loss to Sweden in Stockholm. The captain later claimed he had no ill effects after his comeback.
Coach Markku Kanerva also hopes to see Pukki - who scored 10 goals to lead them to the tourney - will come back in time from his ankle injury to face Denmark in its Group B opener. Finland is one of the quieter teams in the competition, along with Russia and Italy.
Kanerva and Hradecky’s confidence
Kanerva’s boys will be flanked by goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, who is one of the best keepers in the game so far. He has proven himself as a major player for Finland and he is not backing down from the task at hand.
Hradecky trusts the squad well and warned the rest of the teams in the contest not to underestimate the grit that the Finns have to offer.
‘There's something special about this team. We have a tight squad and that will be seen on the pitch and at home in front of the TVs’, the keeper said. ‘I don't think many people know how good we are as a team. At the Euros, we will show that we are better than many believe’.
The roster is a little bit in disarray with all the injuries. However, Kanerva is certain they can fix this issue right away and hopes to see his best players in action when the time comes.
This means the team can actually come up with a much better pace heading into the games. This is why the team needs to stay healthy as well.
Keeping an eye on Pukki
Pukki scored a total of 26 goals this season to help Norwich get back to the Prem. At the same time, he also steered Finland to its first international tourney. He is very reliable in scoring and even finished one goal behind the likes of Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo and two behind England striker Harry Kane.
This is why Kanerva wants to keep an eye on him. Pukki’s ball movement has been off the charts and it is his biggest move in the game so far. Norwich boss Daniel Farke hopes for the best with Pukki and says he wants to see the star play at the highest level in the coming contest.
Still, if Pukki will not yet play in the opening games, then Kanerva has to look for other options in a promising young roster. This will define Finland’s legacy in the coming months as they grind on their next set of games as well.
Words: Paul Daniel Flores