Preview England-Sweden

Sweden go into the game against England having not lost to the Englishmen since 1968. But Sweden’s manager Erik Hamrén is more concerned with finding the right formation and a way to integrate Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the team than to avoid defeat at Wembley.

Erik Hamrén took over from Lars Lagerbäck prior to the Euro 2012 qualifiers. His predecessor steered Sweden to five straight World Cups and European Championships between 2000 and 2008 but failed to guide them to the World Cup in South Africa last summer.

The Swedish FA wanted a change and they identified former AIK and Rosenborg manager Erik Hamrén as the man to do it. He set out to qualify for Euro 2012 with a new 4-2-3-1 formation and with the promise of playing attractive football. He also managed to lure Zlatan Ibrahimovic back from international retirement.

During the qualification, Sweden played well at times at home but where thrashed by Holland in Amsterdam and lost to Hungary in Budapest. However, an unlikely win at home to Holland in the last game secured second place in the group and a place at Euro 2012 next summer.

A lot of issues still need to be solved though.

Who’s gonna play at left back?
Behrang Safari (Anderlecht), Oscar Wendt (Borussia Mönchengladbach) and Martin Olsson (Blackburn) have all been given a chance but failed to cement a place in the team. Martin Olsson seems to be first choice at the moment but that is more down to bleak performences from Wendt and Safari than anything else.

Which formation shoud they play?
Erik Hamrén moved away from the 4-4-2 that had been so succesfull for Lars Lagerbäck during the qualification. But in the 2-0 loss to Denmark at Parken in Copenhagen this weekend, Hamrén had abandoned his 4-2-3-1 in favour of 4-4-2 again. That didn’t work. Zlatan Ibrahimovic looked lost up front and the team effort was lacklustre.

How should Sweden use Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
The biggest problem to solve. The Milan forward is without a doubt Sweden’s best player. But he has had problems being as prolific in the nationl team as he has been in his clubs. Since his first cap in 2001, Sweden have won only 53 percent of the games with Ibrahimovic in the team. Without him the number is 75 percent.

If Sweden are to have a happy summer next year, these issues need to be solved. A nice way to start would be with a good display against England on Tuesday night.

Suggested line up:

Judging by the training sessions before the England game it looks like Hamrén will be playing 4-2-3-1 again.

Andreas Isaksson (PSV Eindhoven)

Mikael Lustig (Rosenborg)
Olof Mellberg (Olympiacos)
Daniel Majstorovic (Celtic)
Martin Olsson (Blackburn)

Kim Källström (Lyon)
Pontus Wernbloom (AZ Alkmaar)

Rasmus Elm (AZ Alkmaar)
Johan Elmander (Galatasaray)
Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Milan)

Six changes from the game against Denmark. Martin Olsson replaces Behrang Safari at left back. WBA defender Jonas Olsson looked solid in defence at Parken so it’s now up to Daniel Majstorovic to show that he should keep his place at central defence during the European Championship.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks set to start despite suggestions that he would be rested. In midfield Pontus Wernbloom gets his first start since march ahead of veteran and ex-Southampton player Anders Svensson.

The reported Arsenal target Rasmus Elm also starts.

Prediction: A 1-1 draw.

Written by: Anton Boström.

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