England v Sweden – Match Preview

Steven Gerrard expects England to deliver a similar performance to the one that earned them a point against France when they take on Sweden at the Olympic Stadium on Friday evening.

The England skipper provided the assist for Joleon Lescott’s goal in Donetsk as the Three Lions turned in a solid, disciplined display but Gerrard believes the shackles will be removed by Roy Hodgson against the Swedes in Kiev.

“I would think the same level of performance against France will be good enough to beat Sweden,” Gerrard said. “I would say so with all due respect to Sweden who are a good, strong team, but they are not France.

“I think we can be a little bit more bold and a little bit more ambitious and get at the Swedes a little bit more. We are confident if we reach the same level of performance, it will be enough for a victory.”

England haven’t beaten Sweden in seven previous World Cup or European Championship meetings and Gerrard admits he and his teammates are confident of ending that unwanted sequence and securing their first victory in Group D.

“Although we are confident, that’s not to say we won’t be trying to learn from the mistakes we made in the first game. We’ve analysed what we did right and wrong against France and we will be trying to improve on our performance as well.

“I’m really happy with the start we’ve made to the tournament. It was really solid and we’ve left ourselves a good platform to build on. The boys are confident we will be on four points after this next game and that will be a good start to this group.”

Sweden were beaten by Ukraine on Monday and now require a win to stay in the hunt for a place in the last eight and coach Erik Hamren is expecting more from his players.

Hamren admits he is partially to blame for their poor performance against the co-hosts but admitted that whilst some players gave 100% the whole team needs to show full dedication during games if they are to progress in the tournament.

“We’re not reaching the level we want to and that’s my responsibility as a coach,” he said.

“We didn’t show the courage we were supposed to. Only five or six players did. We all need all the players doing that.

“We were cowards in the first half and should have done more. I’m not happy with the team, I was expecting more.”

Team News

Glen Johnson should start at right back despite being on antibiotics for a toe infection but Martin Kelly is likely to miss out again as he struggles to overcome a virus. Wayne Rooney sits out the final game of his suspension meaning Danny Welbeck is likely to continue in attack.

Johan Elmander could start up front alongside captain Zlatan Ibrahimovich for Sweden after proving his fitness despite breaking his foot at the tail end of last season.

Key Players

Steven Gerrard

It was a captains performance from Gerrard against France as he abandoned his attacking desires to dig in alongside Scott Parker and provide protection for the England back four. He’ll be expected to make more of an impact in the final third on Friday evening and take the Three Lions to the brink of the last eight.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Despite being written off by large sections of the media Ibrahimovic was Sweden’s best player during the defeat to Ukraine. His goal displayed the predatory tendencies that exist in his 6ft 5in frame that was also used to great effect holding up the ball and winning a vast majority of his aerial duels. Will pose a huge threat to England’s back four should the correct service be provided.

Prediction: 2-0


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