Euro 2012: England ready to end Sweden jinx

England are determined to end their decades-long jinx against Sweden on Friday in a Group D encounter which has assumed must-win status for both sides.

Updated: June 14, 2012 17:01 IST
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Krakow, Poland: England are determined to end their decades-long jinx against Sweden on Friday in a Group D encounter which has assumed must-win status for both sides.

Sweden's opening 2-1 defeat to Ukraine on Monday means that Erik Hamren's team will be eliminated if they lose to England, who have never beaten the Scandinavians in a competitive fixture.

Ukraine's win has complicated matters for England, however, who must beat Sweden in Kiev if they are to avoid the possible daunting scenario of having to beat the co-hosts in their final group game next week to advance.

"We don't have much margin for further mistakes - we've used up our joker," Sweden's veteran midfielder Kim Kallstrom acknowledged.

Sweden have endured a period of soul-searching following their loss to the Ukrainians, with coach Erik Hamren warning his team would face an early flight home if the performance was repeated against England.

"In the first-half against Ukraine there were only maybe five or six players who answered the call to duty, and that is not good enough and cannot be repeated," Hamren said.

Midfielder Rasmus Elm admitted Hamren's criticisms were justified.

"It's hard to disagree with what he said really," said the highly-rated 24-year-old. "We have to accept his comments and the certain thing is that we have to be better against England.

"If we play like that again against England, then we have no chance."

England by contrast have returned to their southern Poland training base at Krakow in relatively good spirits after their opening 1-1 draw with France.

Whilst England's defensive display against the French failed to win many points for artistic impression, the mood within the English camp is upbeat after a performance that pleased captain Steven Gerrard.

"We need to get three points against (Sweden) and then the point against France becomes very important," Gerrard said.

"The Swedes are difficult and I don't think we've beaten them for a long time in a competitive game. We will respect them but, with all respect, it's a game we should win."

England beat Sweden 1-0 in a Wembley friendly last year but have never beaten Sweden in a competitive fixture, with the Swedes winning twice and drawing five times in seven previous meetings.

Manager Roy Hodgson acknowledged England needed to show more penetration in attack if they were to take all three points.

"It's the final third isn't it?" Hodgson reflected when asked where his team needed to make the biggest improvement.

"Sometimes I think we want to try and finish it off too quickly. I think that's because of the intensity of the Premier League."

Hodgson meanwhile admits England's biggest challenge will be to ensure his players get adequate rest.

The biggest questions surround the recovery time of his two thirty-something central midfielders, Gerrard and Scott Parker, outstanding against France.

Whether those two players can reproduce that level of performance against Sweden and then Ukraine four days later will be critical to England's chances.

"That's the big question," Hodgson said.

"I don't think I will be the only coach asking that about his players in this tournament but obviously those two are both over 30 years of age, they both had to work really, really hard.

"But I'm sure I'm not going to be the only coach wondering 'can they do it every four days?' But this is what tournament football is about.

"And what we've got to make certain of, is that if they can't other people are ready to go in there and do exactly the same job."

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