Swedes bullish ahead of England clash

AFP - [email protected] • 19 Jun, 2006 Updated Mon 19 Jun 2006 17:30 CEST

Sweden have England's number as far as playing them goes said Swedish coach Lars Lagerbäck on Monday on the eve of their World Cup Group B table topping decider.


The 57-year-old added that with so many of his side either playing or having played in the English Premiership they were fully attuned to how England would come out and play as they bid to extend their unbeaten run against the 1966 winners to 12 matches.

"My theory is that we have always had a lot of players in the Premiership," said Lagerbäck, whose side need only a point to reach the second round for the second successive time under his tutelage.

"They know English players well, they know their mentality and their way of playing."

However Lagerbäck, whose side could also go out if they lose heavily to England and Trinidad and Tobago beat Paraguay, predicted that the match would be a defensive one, primarily because of his tactics.

"England are always a tough team. They have quality in all positions. They have won two matches," said Lagerbäck, who has been in charge since the end of 1999, at first in a joint role with Tommy Söderberg before the latter took over the Under-21 side.

"We will try to stick to our way of playing, defend as much as we can. When you play at this level you must control the game. You cannot attack too much," added Lagerbäck, whose side stayed in contention for the top spot by beating Paraguay 1-0 with a late winner by Freddie Ljungberg.

However while Lagerbäck was diplomatic, two of his players opted for a more direct appraisal of their opponents.

Midfielder Tobias Linderoth said that just because England, who have six points from their two matches, had higher profile players with bigger name Premiership sides did not mean they were a better team.

"But if you look at the team as a whole then we're just as good," said the 27-year-old hardman midfielder, who had two season with Everton before moving on to FC Copenhagen.

"We were better than them at the last World Cup (they drew 1-1 in the first round while Sweden went out in the second round to Senegal and England to Brazil in the last eight).

"We're not going into this match with any fear or concern.

"England have done what's expected of them so far, but we have a lot of energy and belief in our own play."

His midfielder partner Anders Svensson, who had a successful spell at Southampton when they were still in the Premiership and was a member of the team that got to the 2003 FA Cup final, said he did not fear the English especially their midfield.

"The midfielders are perfectly okay but they are certainly not giants of the game," said the 29-year-old, who scored a brilliant winner in the 1-0 victory over Argentina in the first round at the 2002 edition.

"They are not exactly brimming with creativity but are pretty dangerous when they are given space as both Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard can score from distance. However I feel that Gerrard more than Lampard is their danger man and does not get the attention he deserves.

"If we manage to stifle them then they will disappear from the match because they don't like that," added Svensson.


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