Football: Swedes see no need to change

DAVID BECKHAM may be a strong contender to be voted European Footballer of the Year - assuming it is one award that David Ginola does not steal from him - but Sweden will be making no special plans for coping with the Manchester United midfielder this afternoon. After losing only one of their last 11 matches, to the Republic of Ireland in a luke warm friendly six weeks ago, the Swedes see no reason to change tack or tactics at this stage.

"Our game plan will be based around zonal defence and compressing the space," said their coach, Tommy Soderberg, after his squad had tasted the atmosphere and tested the turf at Wembley yesterday. "So no man-marking of Beckham, because England have a lot of other good players."

Soderberg's assistant, Lars Lagerback, who tends to do most of his talking for him, believes that England's recent change of manager will make Sweden's task more difficult. "Of course they are not a totally new team, but you can see Kevin Keegan has already changed one or two things. They play 4-4-2 a bit more like the way we want to play. They're more direct than under Hoddle and put more crosses into the box. Our strength is our mentality. We don't have a huge amount of money in Swedish football and what you see is a group of players who take pride in playing for their country, not in the amount of money they can make."

The Bologna striker Kennet Andersson echoed that theme - "it's teamwork, we play for each other" - but was a little less impressed than some of his colleagues with Manchester United's achievements. "You have Manchester United winning the Champions' League, but Italian teams won the other European cups," he said.

Leicester City's Pontus Kaamark is likely to play at left-back and will, therefore, see plenty of Beckham, of whom he said: "He's one of the best in the world today and he's getting better and better. That's the most amazing thing about him. It must raise the ambition of England's team when a player like him is performing so well and is obviously now at the top of his game. You have to be thinking not only of qualifying for the European Championship but going on to mount a serious challenge and possibly winning it. England have so many players bursting with confidence, they're strong enough to be one of the top teams."

From a member of the team now five points ahead of England, this seemed to be taking Nordic modesty a little far. Arsenal's Fredrik Ljungberg, like Kaamark, has seen most members of the England squad at close quarters in the Premiership this season and also believes they will provide a much sterner challenge than in Stockholm last September. "Often when you go 1-0 down against top quality international sides, they will close the door. We were surprised how quickly we were able to hit back, although both our goals were a bit lucky. Once we'd taken the lead, we played just as we wanted."

"England will be more focussed now because they won't have any distractions off the pitch. When you are preoccupied by things that have little to do with football, it's impossible to get the right result. There were a lot of negative things going on before the game in Stockholm."

The generally relaxed demeanour of the squad reflects not just natural Scandinavian calmness but also an awareness of how well placed they are in the group, and of their fine record down the years against England. The captain and central defender Patrik Andersson said of that sequence of results: "Maybe it's because we know all about England's style of play - very physical, with plenty of long balls. Maybe it's easier to read the game against them. But they still have individuals who can change a game, like Beckham. We'd be happy with a draw."

Happy? Restricting England to one point by five o'clock this evening would have most countries turning somersaults.

News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
Ministry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
News
peopleHere's what Stephen Fry would say
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Richard Dawkins is known for his outspoken views
people
Life and Style
L’Auberge du pont de Collonges (AFP)
food + drinkFury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Arts and Entertainment
Bourne's New Adventures dance company worked with 27 young Londoners to devise a curtain-raiser staged before New Adventures' performance of Edward Scissorhands
theatreStar choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links