Carl Starfelt returns to Sweden squad during impressive maiden season with Celtic

By Euan Davidson

March 16, 2022

Celtic defender Carl Starfelt is back in the Sweden squad, amidst an impressive debut campaign with the Hoops.

Starfelt has comprised part of the strongest defence in Scotland, having only conceded 18 goals all league season [SPFL]. That includes just 4 goals conceded in total at Celtic Park, with 2 of those coming in a 3-2 Celtic win over Dundee.

Starfelt has come back into the reckoning of manager Janne Andersen at a crucial time. The Sweden team are going up against the Czech Republic for a place in the World Cup 2022.

Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images

The Celtic defender is amongst some familiar names; Victor Lindelof of Manchester United, and Filip Helander of Rangers also made the squad.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back, while Jordan Larsson of Spartak Moscow didn’t make Andersen’s selection.

The Sweden squad is as follows [Svensk Fotbol]:

Starfelt’s prior Sweden appearance came in a 2-1 win over Uzbekistan in September of last year [Transfermarkt]. He played 28 minutes in the friendly, but subsequently wasn’t included in his national team’s last squad. The former Rubin Kazan defender, though, has really stepped it up in 2022, with Celtic conceding very few goals domestically.

In the league, he’s averaging an impressive 1.3 tackles and interceptions per 90, while making 3.2 clearances a game [WhoScored?].

It isn’t just his defensive contributions, however; Starfelt has become adept at winning first headers from corners, while his passing is metronomic for a side that enjoys playing from the back.

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Carl Starfelt absolutely deserves Sweden return given his performances for Celtic

Do we know the ins and outs of the Swedish FA’s decision making processes?

No, we don’t. But from our view, it would’ve been extremely harsh for Starfelt not to have made the Sweden squad to face the Czech Republic. He’s been imperious, and that’s despite having some early setbacks in his Celtic career thus far.

Mistakes are natural. But he’s learned from them, and now Celtic are the defensive outlet in the Scottish Premiership. With a superior goal difference to Rangers, it might come down to extremely fine margins; conceding fewer goals is, as ever, crucial.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The Big Swede has been an integral part of that. Though Christopher Jullien has come back to the first-team, it’s Starfelt and Carter-Vickers who are undoubtedly our best and most settled centre-back pairing, going forward.

With just 4 caps to his name, Starfelt now has an opportunity to help Sweden qualify for a World Cup, and to assert himself as a must-pick for manager Janne Andersen.

Read more: James McPake gives Lennoxtown insight after discussions with Celtic staff