May 19 2013 Latest news:
By Stuart Baillie
Friday, June 15, 2012
FOOTBALL writer Stuart Baillie gives his thoughts on tonight’s England v Sweden match in Euro 2012.
So here we are again sports fans!
Game two of England’s Euro 2012 campaign and one that could effectively make or break our chances of glory this summer.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who was delighted with England’s point against France on Monday, which gave us a steady foundation on which to build on in Group D.
The performance was far from ground-breaking and we lacked any real attacking threat (bar James Milner’s early sitter) but we looked fairly solid and didn’t lose, which was the main priority going into the group opener.
With our most challenging match (on paper) out of the way, we have every chance of qualifying for the knockout stages as long as we perform to our potential.
We won’t have things all our own way though; Sweden seem to have a knack of producing the goods against us and they are yet to suffer defeat to us in a competitive match.
A Daniel Majstorovic own goal helped England to a 1-0 friendly win against the Swedes at Wembley in November, but the head-to-head record in competitive fixtures makes uncomfortable reading for us England fans.
0 England wins, five draws and two Sweden victories is an alarming statistic that suggests we may find it difficult to claim those all important three points tonight.
The omens don’t look good but I’m confident that Roy Hodgson can mastermind a win that will put us one step closer to reaching the last eight.
Andy Carroll is set to start tonight and although it may be at the expense of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, applauded for his bright performance against the French, this could actually prove to be a masterstroke by the England boss.
Sweden manager Erik Hamren has already expressed his concern at England’s threat from set-pieces and Carroll will certainly give the Three Lions an added aerial presence in the final third.
The £35 million man has far from lived up to his outrageous price tag, but his hold up play could be crucial to England’s chances of breaking through the Swedish rearguard.
The target man will look to retain the ball in the final third and feed the likes of Danny Welbeck, Ashley Young and Steven Gerrard who will all be keen to offer their services in attacking situations.
Young and Milner will also be able to whip balls into the box looking for the head of Carroll; an option that was lacking from the line-up in Donetsk.
It won’t be pretty and it won’t make for particularly good viewing, but if we can secure the vital three points tonight, I’m sure no-one will be complaining.
Hearts will be pounding, palms will be sweating and nails will be bitten to shreds, but hopefully it’ll all be worth it.
Expect a close-fought encounter and a nerve-jangling affair but the Three Lions will come out on top tonight. Just.
Verdict: England 1-0 Sweden
What do you think? Will Roy’s boys deliver the goods? Let us know by posting a comment below!