Sweden are playing for second, says Mellberg

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The Independent Football

Olof Mellberg, the Sweden captain, has already conceded top spot in Group B to England and is viewing today's match against Paraguay as the decider for who takes the runners-up place.

The Swedes were bitterly disappointed with their goalless draw against Trinidad and Tobago, so much so that it led to a stand-up row between Mellberg and Freddie Ljungberg in the dressing room after the game. Should England beat Trinidad, and Sweden only draw today, Sven Goran Eriksson's side would have qualified in first place whatever the score in their final game, and Mellberg is under no illusions about his side's position.

"In a way, we are playing for second because of the results in the first round of matches," he said. "I think we definitely expect England to beat Trinidad and Tobago, so that means we will have to look at second place in the group. But we'll have to see after [today's game]. It's such an important game and we know we need to get a result. That's imperative."

Mellberg and his team-mates have been attempting to play down the altercation between himself and Ljungberg but it is no secret that the pair, who were also involved in a public training-ground row during the last World Cup in Japan, do not get on. Asked if he had apologised, Mellberg said: "Apologised to Fredrik for what? Anything that happens in the dressing-room or in our meetings we want to keep it to ourselves. It was impossible in this case, but you try and keep things in-house."

Marcus Allbäck, the former Aston Villa striker now with FC Copenhagen, poured cold water on suggestions that blows were exchanged. "I don't think the 'unrest' has affected us in any particular way," he said. "It was a small thing that people escalated into a massive thing, talking about fights and stuff. It was a discussion and it's quite usual that you have that after a game when you don't get the result you want."

The Sweden coach, Lars Lagerback, said there will be no sense of panic tonight against Paraguay, who he believes may be vulnerable to set-pieces. "We've had decisive games in qualification, as well as in Portugal and Japan, we've been in this situation before," Lagerback said. "These players have shown over the years that there is really good character in this squad. I feel very privileged to be able to work with them. If we play as well as we did, and create that many chances again, we'll have a really good chance of winning the game."

Lagerback is unlikely to make any outfield changes but his first-choice keeper Andreas Isaksson should return. Isaksson missed the Trinidad game after blacking out when he was hit in the face by a Kim Kallstrom shot during training. He will replace Rami Shaaban.

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