Preview: Sweden v England

Group B comes to a climax in Cologne on Tuesday when the undefeated England meet yet to be beaten Sweden in a clash for top spot in the group.

    David Beckham and Wayne Rooney train ahead of the big match

    The Group B equation comes down to this:

    The winner of the Sweden v England match will top the group and will play the second placed team in Group A – either Ecuador or Germany.

    If the match between the two European sides is a draw, England will top the group and Sweden will go through as Group B runners up to play the top team in Group A, again either Ecuador or Germany.

    If Sweden lose the match, they then have to be weary of Trinidad & Tobago who can jump into second spot by defeating Paraguay in their clash in Kaiserslautern.

    However, for the Caribbean islanders to leapfrog the Scandinavians, they must defeat Paraguay by at least two goals, and also see England defeat Sweden by any score.

    Added drama

    Lars Lagerback and Henrik Larsson
    try to plot England's downfall

    The plot thickens outside of Group B, with the interesting clash between joint Group A leaders Ecuador and Germany in Berlin which finishes just hours before England and Sweden kick-off in Cologne.

    Although Ecuador have set the tournament on fire, defeating both Poland and Costa Rica while scoring five goals and conceding none in the process, England and Sweden would probably rather face the South Americans in the round of 16 than the host nation Germany who are seen as a bigger threat.

    If Ecuador win or draw the match in the capital, then they will win Group A with Germany as runners up, however a German win will see the placings reversed.

    This means that there is very much a possibility of a Germany v England second round meeting in what would be a massive match so early in the knock-out stages.

    The machinations are many, and Tuesday 20th should be one of the most intriguing days of the Cup so far.

    Winning advantage

    Sweden and England have played each other 10 times since 1986, with the Swedes remarkably having not lost, winning four of the 10 matches and drawing six.

    When quizzed as to whether he would like to avoid playing Germany in the second round, England coach Sven Goran Eriksson came up with some good points as to why the Three Lions should continue on their winning ways.

    "If you win the group there are a lot of advantages," said Eriksson.

    The brains trust: Sven Goran
    Eriksson (L) and Steve McClaren

    "You have one more day off than your opponents all the way through to the final. So we want to win the group."

    "Before leaving this job I should like to beat Sweden," Eriksson added.

    Born in Varmland County Sweden, Eriksson hinted that he may start with injury plagued forward Wayne Rooney who came on as a substitute in the match against Trinidad & Tobago.

    "We are a different team with Rooney," Eriksson said.

    "He's a great linking player, he holds the ball up, which gives the team time to move out of defence. He's fantastic at everything when he's 100 percent."

    With key midfielder Steven Gerrard on a yellow card, Eriksson may rest the Liverpool player to ensure he is eligible to play in the second round match where all previous yellow cards will be rescinded.

    If Gerrard does not play then Eriksson may give a start to Bayern Munich midfielder Owen Hargreaves while defender Jamie Carragher will again play at right back for the injured Gary Neville.

    The Swedish view

    Sweden will also be looking for the win to ensure their place in the second round, but may be without striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who only lasted 45 minutes against Paraguay before succumbing to a groin injury.

    The Juventus player hasn’t been in the best of form for club or country of late, but he is still a dangerous player and would be very much a part of coach Lars Lagerback’s game plan.

    Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and
    Freddie Ljungberg

    Djurgarden forward Mattias Jonson was confident going into the match, while FC Copenhagen midfielder Tobias Linderoth also referred to the Swedes’ apparent upper hand over England.

    "We've always been difficult to beat when we play England," said Jonson.

    "We were better than them at the last World Cup and we're not going into this match with any fear or concern,” Linderoth said.

    "England have done what's expected of them so far, but we have a lot of energy and belief in our own play," he added.

    It should be a great match with the two teams who were expected to advance from Group B coming together to see just who progresses, and who they will play in the next round.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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