Sebastian Larsson backs inside knowledge to give Sweden the advantage against England
Friday 15 June 2012
The Sweden midfielder Sebastian Larsson is banking on his team-mates' intimate knowledge of the Premier League to continue their fine record against England in Kiev tonight.
Larsson said the two sides' mutual familiarity could play in the Swedes' favour. Asked yesterday if England had a style of play that suited his side, the Sunderland player smiled and said: "I hope they suit us, especially tomorrow. I feel it's a special match and I think many others do too.
"It's a league we have grown up with and followed very closely. It's one of the big football nations so it's always been a special match and will probably be so in the future too."
He singled out captain Steven Gerrard as the key player for England, who have never beaten Sweden in seven competitive internationals but did win the last time they met, a friendly at Wembley in November.
"He's a player who has been around a long time and knows the score," Larsson said. "He's their leader, he has everything, and he's a player I have looked up to. He can play defensively, offensively and physically."
After their 2-1 loss to co-hosts Ukraine in their opening Group D game, this is a must-win match for Erik Hamren's side. Larsson said the Swedes needed to make amends for blowing a 1-0 lead in that defeat in Kiev. "We have a desire for revenge, it will be a big key [motivation] for us tomorrow, to show what we can do."
Hamren said he was looking forward to pitting his wits against England's Roy Hodgson, whom he says left a lasting impression on Swedish football. "He's a big name in Sweden and we'll never forget him for what he has done for Swedish football, so I'm looking forward to meeting him tomorrow," he said.
Hodgson is widely credited with transforming Swedish football during his time at Halmstad and Malmo in the 1970s and 80s, but Hamren added: "I hope he's going to have a headache after the game so we'll see, but I really like him and, as we've seen so far [with England], he's a good coach. That we know in Sweden, we really do."
Hamren said that he did not expect England to change their game-plan and play Andy Carroll to try to exploit Sweden's perceived weakness in the air. "Carroll is a box player, good in the box," he said. "If England want that kind of game they'll play him, but until now they have [used] mobile, quick players."
The former Sweden midfielder Jonas Thern, though, was less complimentary of the English style of play. Thern, part of the third-place team at the 1994 World Cup, believes Hodgson's side will lose tonight because their game is "predictable" and "stereotyped".
He also branded as deluded those observers who reported England as playing well in last Monday's 1-1 draw against France in Donetsk.
"Apparently the one shot towards the France goal over 90 minutes was all it took to ignite the chronic English illusion of world football supremacy," he said.
"I said before the Euro finals started that Sweden would beat England and I stand by that statement despite the horrific display [by Sweden] against Ukraine."
Latest in Sport
Petr Cech demands talks over Chelsea future as Thibaut Courtois begs him to stay – as mentor
Angel Di Maria: Manchester United to push ahead with £50m move for Real Madrid winger
Marcos Rojo to Manchester United: Sporting Lisbon confirm deal with Nani heading back to Portugal on loan
Sami Khedira to Arsenal: Midfield omitted from Real Madrid squad for Spanish Super Cup
David Gold furious after Carlton Cole parody account mocks up a picture of West Ham chairman as a suspect in the Madeleine McCann case
- 1 Michael Brown shooting: Police shoot and kill second young black man near Ferguson
- 2 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 3 Why are UK rail fares so expensive?
- 4 Here’s the damning letter Robin Williams wrote to his Mrs Doubtfire co-star's principal after they expelled her
- 5 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'