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Larsson banks on familiarity to beat England

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Fri, Jun 15, 2012 05:24 hrs
​England

Kiev: Sweden midfielder Sebastian Larsson is banking on his side's intimate knowledge of the Premier League to continue their excellent record against England in Euro 2012 Group D on Friday.

Speaking to a news conference at the Olympic stadium in the Ukrainian capital, Larsson said the two sides' familiarity with each other could play in the Swedes' favour.

Asked if England had a style of play that suited Sweden, the Sunderland player smiled.


"I hope they suit us, especially tomorrow," Larsson told a news conference on Thursday. "I feel it's a special match and I think many others do too.

"It's a league we have grown up with and followed very closely. It's one of the big football nations so it's always been a special match and will probably be so in the future too."

He singled out captain Steven Gerrard as the key player for England who have never beaten Sweden in seven competitive internationals but did win the teams' last meeting, a friendly at Wembley in November.

"He's a player who has been around a long time and knows the score," he said. "He's their leader, he has everything, and he's a player I have looked up to. He can play defensively, offensively and physically."

After a 2-1 loss to hosts Ukraine in their opening game, it is a must-win match for Erik Hamren's Sweden and Larsson said the Swedes would be trying to make up for blowing a 1-0 lead in that defeat.

"We have a desire for revenge, (and) it will be a big key for us tomorrow, to show what we can do."

Coach Hamren said he was looking forward to pitting his wits against England's Roy Hodgson, whom he says left a lasting impression on Swedish football.

"He's a big name in Sweden and we'll never forget him for what he has done for Swedish football so I'm looking forward to meeting him tomorrow," Hamren said.

Hodgson is widely credited with transforming Swedish football during his time at Halmstad and Malmo in the 1970s and 80s.

"But I hope he's going to have most of a headache after the game so we'll see, but I really like him and, as we've seen so far, he's a good coach and that we know in Sweden, we really do."

Hamren added that he did not expect England to change their game-plan and play Andy Carroll to try to exploit Sweden's perceived weakness in the air.

"Carroll is a box player, good in the box," he said. "If England want that kind of game they'll play him, but until now they have players with mobile, quick players."

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