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Sweden to meet England in World Cup 2006

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14:09 CET+01:00
Sweden's footballing rivalry with England will be renewed at the World Cup in Germany next summer. The two teams have been drawn together in Group B, along with Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago.

Both the European sides will be confident of progressing to the knockout stage, but Sweden's record against England is impressive: in eleven competitive matches they have only lost once.

The two sides met at the last World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea where a 1-1 draw in Saitama helped both sides through to the knockout round.

The draw, which was made in Leipzig on Friday evening, brought laughter from the England contingent, not least from their Swedish manager, Sven-Göran Eriksson.

"It is not an easy group but it could have been much worse," said Eriksson.

"We asked to avoid Holland and Australia and we did that," he told the BBC.

"Of course we have to play Sweden, whom we have not beaten for a very long time -- that seems to be our destiny. But that is life, sooner or later we have to beat them. At least on paper we are the favourites with Sweden but you never know in the World Cup."

Swedish manager Lars Lagerbäck said that the draw with England was "almost a parody".

"It feels good," he told Expressen.

"We know them well and have a good record against them - it's a long time since we lost."

And just to add a little more spice to the meeting, Sweden and England will play in their final group game on June 20th.

That makes it possible that the game will be critical for both teams to advance to the next stage - but that did not concern Lagerbäck.

"We know that it will be a tough match anyway, but we know that we can beat them," said the Swedish manager.

"But the dream scenario is that we've already had two wins by then."

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