UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine
Group D
Sweden vs England-  Match Preview

 

 


Group D
                        Euro 2012                         Second round of fixtures

Friday 15th June-                     Ukraine vs France                        KO 5pm                     ITV1/HD
                                           Sweden vs England                    KO 7:45pm                  BBC1/HD

 

 

England manager Roy Hodgson has admitted that he may be forced into rotating his side for their second Group D match against Sweden at Euro 2012.

Former West Bromwich Albion boss Hodgson has concerns over the fitness of central midfielders Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard following the 1-1 draw with France in Donetsk on Monday. He said: "I will have to assess the freshness of my team and see whether they are able to do that again. Scott Parker and Steven Gerrard are both over 30 and had to work really hard. I'm not the only coach wondering 'can they do it every four days?'"

With the pre-tournament injuries to Gareth Barry (abdomen) and Frank Lampard (thigh as well as the long-term injury to Arsenal's Jack Wilshere, it has left England significantly short on cover in midfield with Liverpool's Jordan Henderson- brought on for the final fifteen minutes against the French- and Manchester City's James Milner could also play in the middle of midfield. While, defenders Phil Jones and Phil Jagielka unideally could be pushed forward.

Tottenham's 31-year old Parker, who joined from West Ham last summer, has been nursing an achilles tendon problem over the past six weeks, while there are concerns over 32-year-old Gerrard's ability to play two games in the space of four days particularly in the energy sapping heat that England had to contend with in Ukraine earlier this week against Laurent Blanc's France side.

Hodgson remains confident that he has enough quality and strength in depth in his 23-man squad that is fully capable of getting a result against Sweden adding: "My gut feeling, after a good recovery day on Tuesday, a sensible training day on Wednesday and sensible recovery day on Thursday, is that it will be very hard for me to leave people out. If we said 'we're going to give you a rest because it's too much to play two games in four days,' some of them would have us up against the wall. But what we've got to make certain of, is that if they can't, or start to show signs of fatigue, that others are ready to go in and do exactly the same job. The mood in the dressing room is exceptionally good because we have shown we can handle difficult conditions, against a France team of that quality, and come away with a good result."

A win against the Swedish- who were beaten by the Three Lions for the first time since 1968 last November at Wembley- would leave Hodgson's side in good shape to qualify for the last eight of the tournament ahead of their final group game against co-hosts Ukraine on 19th June.

England are too "predictable" and "stereotyped" to beat Sweden on Friday, according to former Swedish skipper Jonas Thern. The Three Lions drew with France in their opening Group D game while Sweden were beaten 2-1 by Ukraine, but Thern believes the Scandinavians are the better team saying: "The one shot towards the France goal over 90 minutes was all it took to ignite the chronic English illusion of world football supremacy. Their style of play is predictable."

Sweden have problems of their own, however, with coach Erik Hamren being forced to deny he called his players 'cowards' following their defeat to Ukraine. The boss said: "I did not call my players cowards but we were playing a little cautious, we didn't show the aggression I wanted to see. I think some of the players were nervous in the first half, but we played a good game in the second half."

The Swedes conceded two headed goals against the co-hosts with England's strength being in the air, their defensive capabilities are expected to be severely tested. However, Blackburn Rovers left-back Martin Olsson is not worried by his side's perceived weakness. "When you look at the players the team England have, with [Joleon] Lescott and [John] Terry, they have strong players in the air - but so have we," he said. "The last couple of games, we have lost our concentration at set-pieces but we have been working on that and we have to deal with that in the right way against England. I don't see it as a problem."

England have never beaten Sweden in seven tournament clashes, and Thern is backing his countrymen to extend that impressive record.

"I said before the Euro finals started that Sweden would beat England and I stand by that statement despite the horrific display against the Ukraine," said the former Benfica, Napoli, Roma and Rangers midfielder. "England's performance [against France] had none of the quality they like to boast it had. France had 15 shots on goal compared to England's one. England has historically struggled against Sweden as they cannot capitalise on our strength, which is the physical game. Sweden does not fear this style of football in ways that other teams do. The only thing that could have been better for the Swedish team would have been if the manager position had been handed to somebody other than Roy as he is a very competent manager with substantial international experience."

England captain Steven Gerrard believes victory against Sweden will present the perfect stage for Wayne Rooney to return and lift their Euro 2012 campaign taking it to new heights. Rooney completes a two-match ban after Friday's Kiev clash and will return for the final Group D game against Ukraine. He said: "Wayne adds an awful lot of quality and skill to this team. If we can get a good win on Friday then get him back fit and raring to go, it is only going to improve things."

Three Lions coach Roy Hodgson accepts Rooney's mere presence lifts his England team-mates and could inject a fear factor into their opponents. The boss added: "I am sure we will get better and I am sure even just a simple thing like the return of Wayne Rooney will make us into a stronger team and a bigger threat. I am sure when opponents play us they would much rather see Rooney's name not on the teamsheet than on it." Gerrard also believes England will show more ambition against Sweden as they look to move nearer to the tournament's quarter-finals.

Hodgson is under no illusions about the threat posed by Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the game. The AC Milan striker has often failed to produce his natural brilliance against Premier League teams in Europe. But Hodgson- who first saw Ibrahimovic as a teenager playing for former club Malmo twelve years ago- has outlined the danger he will pose in Kiev. The former Fulham boss said: "Zlatan's career record is quite incredible. I don't think he polarises opinion - certainly not in Sweden because he is an iconic figure and they are very much in awe of him to some extent because of his career. Maybe on one or two of the times he has come to England he has not succeeded when he has been built up to succeed, but that may be down to the fact that on the day he met a good team that made it hard for him to play. I have seen quite a lot of him over the years. I saw him first playing for Malmo in 2000. They had been relegated for the only time in their history- he made sure they got straight back up again as a fairly young precocious talent 12 years ago."

Ibrahimovic's quality can be traced on a map of a nomadic career that has taken in Ajax in the Netherlands, Italian giants Juventus and Inter Milan before a stint at Barcelona paved the way for his return to Milan in Serie A.

Roy Hodgson is ready to recall Andy Carroll as England go for goals and a crucial Euro 2012 victory when they face Sweden in Kiev on Friday. Liverpool's £35m striker was overlooked in favour of Danny Welbeck for England's opening 1-1 draw with France. But indications from England's final training session suggest they will be paired against the Swedes.

Sweden are expected to bring in Jonas Olsson at centre-back and switch Andreas Granqvist to right-back. Fit-again striker Johan Elmander also looks set for a recall at the expense of the misfiring Markus Rosenberg.


Click here to watch Danny Welbeck's England press conference ahead of game

Click here to watch Hart & Oxlade-Chamberlain recover from France match

Click here to listen to the latest report from the England camp on Wednesday

Click here for David James' pre-match analysis of Sweden game

Click here to listen to the latest England report from Kiev on Thursday

"I didn't call my players cowards"- Sweden coach Erik Hamren

Swedish fans set up camp in Kiev before match with Three Lions

Click here for BBC Sport's short pre-match montage for Sweden vs England


 


Click on the image below to watch clips of some classic matches and moments involving matches between Sweden and England in the past:-

Prediction:-

I predict a very close encounter as they always are when England meet Sweden. Sweden are the Three Lions' arch nemesis and it will not be an easy match by any stretch of the imagination. They haven't got the better of them in any competitive meeting which speaks volumes for the difficulty that they face in this game. It will be a tense opening after the Swedes lost their first match to Ukraine having led. It will take a huge amount of character from them to put that result behind them and build on it against an England side who have put in place some solid foundations to progress from Group D after a battling performance in their draw with France. England don't leak goals like they used to thanks to Roy's defensive stability that he brings. We saw it when he took over at West Bromwich Albion, he works hard on defensive drills on the training ground and they are reaping dividends on a side that does have some good defenders. He has had three games now but they get harder and harder. Against the French we didn't see a great deal of attacking from England and it was the mainly France who took the game to them- once they opened the scoring, England sat back and invited pressure ultimately paying the price for trying to sit on their lead which had been successful in the Norway and Belgium friendlies. They will have more expectation in the match against Sweden with many tipping them to get a result and be the more dominant side with a more vibrant, offensive approach. I think Roy will change personnel with the likes of Downing and Carroll possibly coming in to keep the side fresh after playing in the Donetsk heat only on Monday. Sweden have players such as Ibrahimovic and Larsson who can make things happen while Kim Kallstrom will put up a fight against Scott Parker in midfield and with England still without Rooney, they could struggle to score but the Swedes don't have the best defence with Mellberg past it and Granqvist looking distinctly shaking in their first group game. I think England with the right attitude and mental focus will be fully prepared and will come away from Kiev with a positive result- a narrow but important victory.

Adam predicts Sweden 1-2 England

Alex predicts Sweden 0-1 England

 

 

 

 

 


Last meeting:-

Wednesday 15th November 2011                                 International Friendly               England 1-0 Sweden              (Majstorovic 22 own goal)
Venue- Wembley Stadium (North London)


England recorded their first victory over the Swedish since 1968 with a satisfactory performance and 1-0 victory at Wembley over Erik Hamren's side coming just days after the Three Lions overcame world champions Spain. The winning goal was the country's 2000th goal with Manchester City's Gareth Barry flicking on the eye-catching Stewart Downing's cross with his tame header deflecting in off Celtic defender Daniel Majstorovic and finding the corner of the net. Manager Fabio Capello used the opportunity to experiment his side with the Euro 2012 tournament looming in the summer giving game time to the likes of Bobby Zamora, Jack Rodwell and Kyle Walker while Scott Carson, auditioning for the second choice goalkeeping role behind Joe Hart, replaced the aforementioned Hart at half-time. The attendance for the match at Wembley Stadium was the lowest for an England match since the ground was rebuilt with only 48,876 fans turning upto see a low-key affair in a game which lacked quality. In a match to quickly forget, England's best chances fell to Man United's Phil Jones, who rolled wide of goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson's post, and Everton's Rodwell who shot over the bar in the first half while trying a speculative dipping volley just after half-time which came close to adding a second goal. After an impressive start to the season with Chelsea, Danny Sturridge was rewarded with his first cap for the senior side when appearing as a second half substitute. Sweden were disappointing in the subdued atmosphere wasting their best chance in the final minutes with substitute Christian Wilhelmsson sidefooting over the crossbar.


 

 

SWEDEN

Manager-  Erik Hamren 

 

 

Available squad:

Goalkeepers-  Isaksson, Wiland, Hansson

Defenders-  Lustig, Mellberg, Granqvist, J Olsson, Safari, Antonsson, M
                 Olsson

Midfielders-  Larsson, Elm, Svensson, Wernbloom, Kallstrom, Holmen,
                  Bajrami, Wilhelmsson

Forwards-  Ibrahimovic (C), Elmander, Hysen, Toivonen, Rosenborg

Likely starting line-up:

(4-4-2)

Isaksson
Lustig
Mellberg
Granqvist
M Olsson
Larsson
Elm
Kallstrom
Wernbloom
Ibrahimovic (captain)
Toivonen

 

 

 

ENGLAND

Manager-  Roy Hodgson 

 

 

Available squad:

Goalkeepers-  Hart, Green, Butland

Defenders-  G Johnson, Kelly, Lescott, Terry, Jagielka, Jones, A Cole, Baines

Midfielders-  Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Parker, Gerrard (C), Henderson, Milner, Young, Downing

Forwards-  Rooney, Carroll, Defoe, Welbeck

 

Likely starting line-up:

(4-4-1-1)

Hart
G Johnson
Terry
Lescott
A Cole
Walcott
Gerrard (captain)
Parker
Downing
Young
Carroll


KEY BATTLE:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden) vs John Terry (England)


Adam's comment:
  "Having watched Ibrahimovic for many different top clubs such as Inter Milan, Barcelona and AC Milan, we all know what a top quality striker he is. He has scored goals for all three of the aforementioned clubs while he has proven himself in the Champions League and at international level for Sweden becoming their cult hero and captain. He apparently got into the rest of the squad after the Ukraine defeat after letting slip a lead that he had given them with, shouting at them giving them a few choice words about their second half- that shows his commitment to the country, how much he wants to do well at the tournament as well as his own personal ambitions. His height is a key factor in his quality causing defences problems with his direct approach, he is capable of sticking a chance away which the centre-back pairing of Terry and Lescott need to be mindful of when marshalling the back four. They need to keep tabs on him at all times as he can be lethal- as once seen when he scored a double against Arsenal during his Barca days with two exquisite finishes. Terry in particular with his experience will be expected to keep him quiet more than Lescott will. They have met in the past and as far as I can remember- Terry did a good job against him which they will need a repeat of in this game. John Terry may have lost the England captaincy but he is still a natural-born leader who gives his all on the pitch no matter what is happening off the field in his private life. He is great at heading the ball away under pressure, is an organised central defender who is brave positioning himself to read the game properly and it will be an interesting dual between the two professionals who have been in the game for a number of years. Both want a quarter-final place."
 
 

 

 

KEY MATCH FACTS:-


Erik Hamren's side had won four games out of four in 2012 before their defeat by Ukraine. While, captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored in four successive matches for Sweden.

Sweden scored 31 goals in qualifying; only the Netherlands (37) and Germany (34) were more prolific.

England have won just six of the 14 matches at European Championship finals when they have scored first.

England have never beaten Sweden in seven previous competitive meetings. No country has ever stayed unbeaten in eight against England.  Four of the last six meetings have ended level, including each of the last three competitive games.

Sweden have lost their last three European Championship finals matches - their worst run of defeats in tournament history- while the Swedes have scored in all 11 competitive matches under Erik Hamren's management with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring in each of Sweden's last four matches. Ibrahimovic's goal against Ukraine meant he became the fifth player to score at three different European Championships: after Jurgen Klinsmann, Vladimir Smicer, Thierry Henry and Nuno Gomes.

England have failed to score more than once in their last seven matches at major tournaments - since a 2-2 World Cup draw with Sweden in 2006 when Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard both scored.

However, they have twice lost on this date in European Championship history, including the 3-1 defeat to the Netherlands in 1988. England made the lowest percentage of passes (51%) in the opposition half of any team in the first round of group games.

This match will be England manager Roy Hodgson's 90th match as an international manager having taken charge of Switzerland and Finland as well.

 

REFWATCH
 


Damir Skomina (Slovenia)


Damir Skomina, a 35-year old estate agent, has been refereeing since 1995 meanwhile he became a member of the FIFA and UEFA international list in 2003. He officiated at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing whilst being appointed to three cup finals in his native Slovenia. Damir has been involved in some high-profile matches during his refereeing career while he is not afraid to make some big calls. He was the referee who dismissed Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes in a 4-3 Champions League group stage defeat to Inter Milan at the San Siro remembered for a sensational Gareth Bale hat-trick. Skomina also dismissed England goalkeeper Robert Green in the final match he took charge of the national team in their final World Cup qualiying match against Ukraine in October 2009. Last season, overall he took charge of 28 domestic games dishing out a mega 128 yellow cards and 6 red cards. He also received eight European appointments during 2011-12 which including handling Manchester United's first Champions League group stage match against Benfica in a 1-1 draw, overseeing Manchester City's 2-1 defeat in Naples in November and the Red Devils' Europa League last 32 second leg defeat to Ajax at Old Trafford. Skomina was confronted on the pitch by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in March after being in the middle for the Gunners' Champions League last 16 second leg against AC Milan claiming that the Slovenian had "given too many free-kicks" to the Italians during the game. Another highlight of his refereeing career so far was the match at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Benfica in the Champions League quarter-finals in April where the Blues progressed with Damir awarding Chelsea a penalty and sending off Benfica's Joao Pereira. He took charge of the Europa League semi-final second leg between Valencia and Atletico Madrid later that month. The match in Kiev will be his second match of the Euro 2012 tournament having took charge of Holland's opening Group B clash which resulted in a 1-0 defeat against Denmark in Kharkiv where Dutch boss Bert Van Marwijk felt the referee should have given his side a late penalty after a handball by a Danish defender.


? DID YOU KNOW ?

Damir Skomina was one of only two referees out of the twelve travelling to Poland & Ukraine that also went to Euro 2008- however the father of two sons was a fourth official at the tournament four years ago.

Match Officials:

Referee-  Damir Skomina (Slovenia)

Assistant Referees-  Primoz Arhar (Slovenia) & Matej Zunic (Slovenia)

Fourth Official-  Florian Meyer (Germany)

Additional Assistant Referees-  Matej Jug (Slovenia) & Slavko Vincic (Slovenia)

Reserve Assistant Referee-  Jan-Hendrik Salver (Germany)

 

Venue:

Olympic Stadium, Kiev (Ukraine)
(picture taken during the warm-up ahead of a Ukrainian league match in November 2011)
 
 

Fixture Details:

Friday 15th June 2012            KO 7:45pm (BST)            Coverage- Live on BBC1/HD, BBC Radio 5Live & match highlights on ITV1 at 10:35pm

 

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