Sweden and England face-off in their second respective games in Group D of Euro 2012. Read our match preview and betting tips here.
Sweden’s loss to co-hosts Ukraine and England’s draw with France make this match a must-win for both of these sides if they are to keep their tournament aspirations on track.
Roy Hodgson and England were content with the point gained from their opening match against France, but were never truly tested as the French also appeared to be happier avoiding defeat than going all out for the win. Swedish supporters, on the other hand, would be right to feel slightly disconcerted by their team’s performance in defeat to Ukraine. Although Zlatan Ibrahimovic threatened in patches the collective effort left plenty to be desired.
Hodgson’s decision to hand Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain his competitive debut was a brave one that didn’t really come off. Although the Arsenal forward certainly didn’t look out of his depth, it would be erroneous to say that he had any sort of profound effect on the outcome of the game. It would appear that a position in the starting XI against Sweden is between the youngster and Arsenal teammate Theo Walcott who came on as a second-half substitute in his place.
Danny Welbeck was given the nod to start upfront, ahead of Andy Carroll and Jermain Defoe, and one of the trio is likely to partner Ashley Young again here. Young had been one of England’s best players in their two Euro 2012 warm-up games, but Alou Diarra’s man-marking job nullified the Manchester United forward’s threat and therefore considerably weakened England’s offensive impetus.
The ability of Sweden’s midfield to deploy similar tactics could be the key to this game.
Similarly, England’s defence must find a way to cope with the mercurial threat of Ibrahimovic. A striker who divides opinion like a net does a tennis court; he flickers from the sublime to the innocuous, often multiple times within a match. But, as he showed in flashes against Ukraine, he is often a game changer and always Sweden’s most potent threat.
England have scored once in each of Hodgson’s three matches in charge, and can be backed at odds of 6/4 to score exactly once this Friday.
Ashley Young came into Euro 2012 in fine fettle on the international stage, scoring three goals in England’s last four matches.
If the Swedish midfield are unable to apply the shackles in the way that Alou Diarra did on Monday then he looks a good bet to get on the scoresheet at odds of 2/1.
Ibrahimovic is only marginally shorter in the same market at odds of 15/8.
A draw would keep England in the hunt but heap the pressure on to their final group game with Ukraine. Unlike their opening match I expect Hodgson’s side to show plenty of vigour going forwards, and get the win that they require.