The longest-standing rivalry in international American football will be renewed Saturday, August 4 in the 2018 IFAF European Championships when Team Sweden and Team Finland battle for the bronze medal in Vantaa, Finland.
This will be the 28th meeting between these two teams in a rivalry that dates back 1992 when they started playing a more or less annual grudge match. Finland leads that series 12-10 but including European Championship games the Finns hold a 16-11 edge in games between the two countries.
One of these teams will end their 13 year European Championship medal drought today. The last time either team was on the podium was in 2005 in Malmo, Sweden when Sweden won the gold medal and Finland the bronze. Since then, no Nordic country has won a medal.
To reach the bronze medal game, Finland (1-1) won their first game of the tournament, defeating Great Britain 28-7 but then lost a close battle to Team France, 21-14.
Sweden downed the Danes 30-20 in their first game but then were overwhelmed by Team Austria losing 41-3.
For Finland, Janne Lehtinen has started both games at quarterback but on the second half against France, Miro Kadmiry stepped in. He was the starting quarterback in the 2010 and 2014 European Championships. Kadmiry provided a real spark against France and throwing for two touchdowns, but more importantly using his legs as a true weapon.
The strength of Finland´s rushing game is the offensive line. This group is led by center Arttu Tennberg who will pave the way for running backs Veikka Lehtonen, Henri Jussila and Karri Pajarinen.
In the passing game, receivers Tommi Pinta, Micky Kyei and young talent Tino Ndongo, can be dangerous and all three looked impressive in the game against France.
For Team Sweden quarterback Philip Juhlin’s chemistry with his Carlstad Crusaders teammate Jacob Dahre has been the key. If Thomas Jacobsen and Michael Sander can step up and take bigger role in the passing game, and the offensive line can provide time for Juhlin to operate, it might turn into a tough afternoon for the Finnish defense.
Finland has been tough against the run so far, but the duo of Victor Toresson and Emil Knutsson at running back has proved effective at times. Both are hard-nosed backs who can grind it out yard by yard. And Team Sweden’s running game also includes Juhlin who is excellent runner.
Both Finland and Sweden have had their trouble on special teams. French returner Nelson Tsimi had big numbers against Finland and Austrian returner Sandro Platzgummer even bigger numbers against Sweden. If this turns into a tight game, the medal could go to the team whose special teams step up.And this doesn’t just include the kickers and punters. The returners likeMarkus Persson of Team Sweden and Micky Kyei or Kimi Linnainmaa of Team Finland. will be keys.
Watch the game live presented by American Football International in partnership with Mobile-TV and YareTV. The stream is geo-blocked in Austria and Germany, but available on-line to the rest of our worldwide audience.