LIVESTREAM: Swedish final – Carlstad Crusaders v. Stockholm Mean Machines, July 7, 1p (7a EST)

No matter what the outcome, another record will be broken Saturday July 7 when the Carlstad Crusaders travel to Stockholm Stadium to face the Stockholm Mean Machines in the 2018 Swedish championship game.

The Crusaders have won a record eight consecutive Swedish titles while Stockholm holds the overall record with 11 Swedish championships. So regardless of who wins the game, a new record will be set.

The last team before Carlstad to win the Swedish crown was the Mean Machines when they defeated Carlstad in the 2009 title game. In fact, Stockholm and Carlstad have played five previous championships against each other and the Mean Machines have won every one.

Carlstad enters the game as the overwhelming favorites but after last week’s scare in the semifinals, when they barely escaped with a win against the Uppsala 86ers, the heavy favorite tag might not fit as well. They needed a touchdown in the last minute of the game to defeat Uppsala 50-43. Meanwhile, Stockholm got a monkey off their backs in their semifinal last week by soundly beating the Orebro Black Knights 35-14, avenging two regular season losses to Orebro.

During the regular season, the Crusaders had no trouble handling Stockholm beating them 41-20 and 56-28.

However, Carlstad has been hard pressed in their last two games, losing in a shootout to the Copenhagen Towers in the NEFL final 44-43 and then barely beating Uppsala last week.

These are two offenses with plenty of weapons.

Carlstad Crusaders QB Philip Juhlin finished the year where he started as the top passing quarterback in Sweden with 2,180 yards and a league best 29 passing TDs.  Anders Hermodsson of the Stockholm Mean Machines wound up 2nd with his 1,594  yards.

Stockholm WR Matthew Retzlaff was the league’s top receiver after finishing with 810 yards. Robin Juhlin of the Crusaders finished 2nd, barely, with 808 yards while last year’s top wide receiver, Jacob Dahre of the Crusaders wound up 3rd with 562 despite missing the last game with an injury.

As he did all season, Stockholm Mean Machines RB Emil Knutsson led the league in rushing finishing with 754 yards.  Crusader’s QB Philip Juhlin finished in 5th spot with 308 yards and a league-best 10 TDs.

In other words, both offenses can score. Carlstad’s defense is led by linebackers Christian Kuylenstjerna and Mattias Eriksson who were second and third in tackling in the league and lead a formidable front seven. Defensive back Julius Rucker is a key factor for Carlstad as well. He was the third leading tackler on the team and led Sweden in interceptions with four including a pick six.

Stockholm linebacker Pontus Westman finished the year with 49 tackles leading his team while Trolle Geuna was second with 36.

Nevertheless, regular season stats have no bearing on playoff games when anything can happen.

When asked about the pressure of facing a team that has won the last eight titles, knowing that your team was the last to beat them in 2009, Stockholm head coach Fredrik Pilback did not pull his punches:

“It’s nice to be back where we belong. We do not feel any pressure at all. We have everything to win and Carlstad has everything to lose.”

Pilback knows his offense needs to perform to have a chance:

“The keys will be for our offense to score more than 30 points. Our special teams needs to be flawlessand our defense needs to stop Carlstad at least three times. And of course we need to stop their quarterback, Philip Juhlin.”

Stockholm has lost to Carlstad twice this year, but that could almost work in their favor:

Pilback:

“Absolutely. We haven’t been able to play all starters against Carlstad yet. Our coaching staff has now been able to prepare the team for the task.”

Carlstad head coach Tracey Gere:

“We are back here again on a journey we actually began a year ago. Right after last year’s final win over the Black Knights we started talking about coming back to win number nine. And here we are facing the last team to beat us and win 10 titles, the Mean Machines.”

Carlstad has faced adversity in their last two games for the first time this season and in almost three seasons. Losing to Copenhagen and then having to pull out a last minute victory over Uppsala tested Gere’s team:

“The game against Uppsala reminded me of the game against Copenhagen and it was almost the same result. But the offense had a little more time at the last minute and finished a last fantastic drive. I would never wish to give up 43 points but the experience of having to fight back is something that has not happened to us so many times and it’s good that we have had a couple of games this year where we had to face this kind of adversity. Now after several years without loss in Sweden, we talk pretty much before every game to not underestimate our opponent.  We don’t need that talk this week. We know we are facing a tough opponent.”

Kickoff is 1:00 pm (7a EST) and the game is being broadcast live on CMore in Sweden (PPV) and shown in a tape delay as well.

Watch the game live (Pay per View) by clicking here.  It costs 99 Swedish kronor. The broadcast is “semi geo-restricted”. A Swedish credit/bank card is necessary. Click on the button that says “Standard Sport”. Then fill in your email address, name and password and click Skapa konto, Open account. Add your credit card number. You can choose two weeks for free “Prova 2 veckor gratis” or you can choose to watch a single  game. The game costs 99 Swedish kronor, or about $11 while a subscription is 199 kronor per month.

AFI
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