Euro 2012: Sweden vs England prediction
Sweden have to be better in this do-or-die clash against England. The supporters know it; the media know it; the players know it; and Erik Hamrén most definitely knows it.
Granqvist – Mellberg – J Olsson – M Olsson
Svensson – Källström
Larsson – Ibrahimović – Elm
An awful first game against Ukraine where only Zlatan Ibrahimović impressed, has caused Swedes to reconsider their team. Gone was the incisive passing that cuts through teams – Sweden only completed 297 passes during the game with Ola Toivonen and Seb Larsson successfully making approximately 50 percent of their intended passes. This was sloppy, fearful football where the midfield were overrun for large periods of the game.
Martin Olsson looked short of confidence and his attacking runs down the left flank were noticeably missing. Amongst the many issues Hamren has had to look at during training, this is most definitely one.
England surely have to start with Andy Carroll. Sweden have conceded six goals in 2012, coinciding with Daniel Majstorović’s injury during training ahead of the February friendly against Croatia. Each of those six goals have been headers; even the own goal in Zagreb from Jonas Olsson came from his head. The defence look shaky when facing high balls, and have a tendency to switch off. Olof Mellberg does not have a partner in the heart of the defence who he looks like forming a reliable partnership with.
Further problems are evident at right-back where Mikael Lustig played on Monday. He has featured just five times for Celtic in 2012 and before the Ukraine clash had completed only 74 minutes for the national team. Andreas Granqvist moves over to the right with Jonas Olsson coming in at centre-back. This makes for a stronger defence though much will rely on Seb Larsson to attack down the right alone.
Johan Elmander starts and feels he is fitter than before the Monday game. Much will depend on how fit Elmander actually is.
Rasmus Elm moves to the left and will look to cut inside. He has to play better than he did on Monday and I expect that he will. A more advanced position, with Anders Svensson in the centre, will free Elm to attack the English defence.
Someone who is uniquely placed to talk about this game is the legend that is Kenny Pavey. Preparing for Ljungskile’s away game against Hamarby, Pavey told me that England “have started well. The France game could have went either way and on another day we could’ve won the match. The French have more quality in their team than Sweden do and I’m feeling quite confident of a win. “
“I wouldn’t start with Carroll against Sweden as he hasn’t shown enough recently to prove that he can do the job. Jermain Defoe will be buzzing before this game and Danny Wellbeck played well on Monday. I’d look to throw Carroll in with about 35 minutes to go if we are still looking for a result.”
On the subject of Johan Elmander, Pavey was clear: “If he isn’t fit then he shouldn’t be selected. If the decision is left to him to decide if he can play or not then every player would do the same thing. If I was in a tournament and the manager asked if I was fit then of course I’d want to be playing”.
Taking a break from the Aftonbladet studios where he joined Marcus Leifby for the Engalnd vs France game on Monday, Pavey will be in a hotel with his teammates for the match. “I’m going to get all of our foreign players, the Brazilians, the Americans, together and we’ll all be supporting England. We’ll sit in a group together”.
There is European Championship history between the two teams. In the final group game of Euro 92 they faced each other with England taking an early lead through David Platt. Back came Sweden, the host country, and after Jan Eriksson had equalised seven minutes into the second-half it was the superstar Tomas Brolin, in his peak yet still not the player that Zlatan is, who scored a beautiful winner with eight minutes remaining. Sweden qualified as group winners while England went home having finished bottom of the group.
Nicholas the llama takes no notice of such history, though. Faced with the choice of England and Sweden, he had no hesitation in making his selection:
Andy Hudson’s prediction: Sweden 2 England 1. Follow Andy on Twitter.
Kenny Pavey’s prediction: Sweden 0 England 2. Follow Kenny on Twitter.
Anton Boström’s prediction: Sweden 1 England 1. Follow Anton on Twitter.
Danny Last’s prediction: Sweden 1 England 1. Follow Danny on Twitter.
Daniel Kristoffersson’s prediction: Sweden 2 England 1 (Zlatan, Larsson; Carroll). Follow Daniel on Twitter.
Michael Hudson’s prediction: Sweden 0 England 2. Follow Michael on Twitter.
Ross Gregory’s prediction: Sweden 0 England 3 (Gerrard, Wellbeck, Young). Follow Ross on Twitter.
Saša Ibrulj’s prediction: Sweden 1 England 1. Follow Saša on Twitter.
Charlie Anderson’s prediction: Sweden 1 England 1 (Larsson; Carroll) . Follow Charlie on Twitter.
Marcus Leiby’s prediction: Sweden 2 England 2. Follow Marcus on Twitter.
If you think you can predict better than this then join in with Arsenal legend Ian Wright and his Absolute Radio show: Rock and Roll Football. Simply use the Twitter hashtag #WrightorWrong and listen to the show. Other predictions from guests and from Wrighty himself can be found on the Absolute Radio website.
Finally, it seems like Aftonbladet have the right idea with their mock Daily Mirror page:
Though the Daily Mirror have other ideas:
Read Andy Hudson’s profile of the the mood in Sweden ahead of the clash with England for Mirror Football.
Read Andy Hudson’s profile of the Sweden team for the Shields Gazette.
Read Andy Hudson’s in-depth preview on The Football Project website.