England v Sweden Preview
England could be reasonably happy with their 1-1 opening performance against France in Euro 2012. They have never won an opening game in the competition. So a 1-1 draw, against opposition who haven’t lost in 21 outings, from a team still very much in progress; is on the whole positive.
Steven Gerrard’s perfectly weighted free kick seemed to land square on Joleon Lescott’s forehead, it was just a case of a nudge in goal. England were World beaters; for nine minutes. It did not take Samir Nasri long to respond with a sumptuous strike of his own to tie the game up. It remained 1-1.
England tired in the sapping heat as the game went on. But they defended manfully throughout. They lacked any incisive threat in the second half but a generous observer may attribute that to the heat.
Next up Sweden in Group D. The Swedes are holding up the bottom of the group after a 2-1 defeat to Ukraine in one of the matches of the tournament.
Sweden came up against destiny in their opening group game. Destiny in the form of Andriy Shevchenko. Shevckenko scored two headed poacher’s goals in the second half. Proving that if his body isn’t what it used to be, his instincts have never been sharper.
Sweden’s best player, by a mile, Zlatan Ibrahimovic pinched a poachers goal of his own. But Sweden were no match for a tough Ukrainian outfit with destiny and the hopes of a nation at their back.
With that win Ukraine took charge of Group D and look a very dangerous side, for the English and French alike, going into the final group games. If Ukraine continue in this fashion one of the big boys of the group may progress; but not both.
England will have to take the game to Sweden. Sweden are not what they were. But in Zlatan Ibrahimovic they have a striker who can nab a goal at any moment, even when, or especially when, he appears to be be doing nothing at all.
A win over Sweden will put England in a very good position to progress into the knock out phases of the tournament. Any other result places their progression hopes firmly in the lap of the gods.
While England have yet to truly impress, they displayed enough defensive fortitude and set piece guile to suggest they should deal with Sweden on Friday.
The game will be broadcast live in the UK from 7pm on BBC1 Friday.Need a UK IP? Click Here
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