June 20, 2018 / 1:26 PM / 10 months ago

Why Germany showdown will be a family affair for Swede Olsson

GELENDZHIK, Russia (Reuters) - Sweden’s World Cup clash with Germany in Sochi on Saturday will carry extra sporting spice for their defender Martin Olsson because his sister is married to top German basketball player Dirk Nowitzki.

FILE PHOTO: Football Soccer - Sweden v Belgium - EURO 2016 - Group E - Stade de Nice, Nice, France - 22/6/16 - Sweden Martin Olsson in action with Belgium Thomas Meunier. REUTERS/Yves Herman

As soon as the draw was made the full back’s phone started buzzing with messages from his brother-in-law, who plays for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA on the other side of the Atlantic.

“He’s a big football fan, so there’s a lot of football talk in the family,” Olsson told Reuters.

“We have a family chat on WhatsApp so there’s been a good bit of banter... He probably wants Germany to win but it hasn’t got serious yet, before the game starts it probably will,” he said with a smile.

The 30-year-old was an unused substitute when Sweden beat South Korea 1-0 in their opening match but he has faced Germany before.

“The last two games against Germany when I’ve been involved, we had a 4-4 game in Berlin (in 2012) and a 5-3 game at home (in 2013) where we took the lead as well (before losing), so there’s been a lot of goals from both sides,” he said.

“Hopefully at the World Cup it will be the same exciting game for the fans... Of course they’ll be the favorites, but in the World Cup upsets can happen, and hopefully that will be one of them.”

Germany have already been on the wrong end of a shock result, losing 1-0 to Mexico in their Group F opener, and they will be looking to get their campaign back on track against the Swedes.

“We need to stick together and work hard on the defensive part, and hopefully we can nick a set piece or even a counter-attack, but of course we go into every game for a win,” Olsson said.

He is aware of speculation linking him with a move away from his club Swansea City, who have just been relegated from England’s Premier League, but said it would not affect his focus.

“The World Cup is always a shop window, but I haven’t been thinking of it in that way,” he said. “I have another year on my contract with Swansea and I have to respect that. I want to enjoy the World Cup, it’s a dream to play for your country.”

Olsson said he did not know if Nowitzki, who won the NBA Finals with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, would be in the stands when the two sides meet in Sochi.

“We thought about having the family coming and watch the games, but we’ll see,” Olsson said.

Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Tony Lawrence

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