Roy Hodgson has billed Zlatan Ibrahimovic as “one of Europe`s best strikers in Europe” ahead of England`s Group D clash with Sweden at Euro 2012.
The Three Lions open their tournament campaign against France next Monday before facing Sweden on June 15 and finally Ukraine in Donetsk on June 19.
England last recorded a win against Sweden in 1968 and Hodgson admits Erik Hamren`s men will be a tough opponent in his side`s second group fixture.
“I think he, with his irrational play or his ability to play irrationally, being able to make things happen out of nothing, combined with their (Sweden`s) excellent organisation, work rate and discipline, that`s why they are in this European Championship.””Their [Sweden`s] major weapon is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is one of the best strikers in Europe. As you can see from his track record – Inter, Milan, Barcelona, Juventus and Ajax – it`s not a bad list of clubs to have on your CV at the age of 30,” Hodgson told William Hill.
Hodgson is also wary of facing Ukraine and insists tournament hosts can hold an advantage with the larger portion of crowd support during matches.
“We know they are going to be a tough nut to crack,” he said. “But it wasn`t an easy game in Detroit playing in front with all these passionate American fans with a few valiant Swiss trying to hold their end up, it`s not easy. “In particular, all hosts, or co-hosts are, I remember my first game with Switzerland in 1994 [World Cup] was against the USA. And that was before the USA were as highly rated as they are today.
“It`ll be the same case in Donestsk when we play against Ukraine. It`ll be a very passionate atmosphere, but sometimes those atmospheres can push teams to heights they wouldn`t normally achieve.”
- Gabriele Marcotti: Euro 2012 Preview: Sweden (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- Euro 2012 scouting report: Sweden (mirror.co.uk)
- Soccer News: Euro 2012 Group D Preview (sportsinvasion.net)
- Euro 2012 guide: No 14 Sweden (morningstaronline.co.uk)
- Bad news for England as Euro 2012 rivals France show class (theweek.co.uk)
- Euro 2012: Who will be the champions? (bbc.co.uk)
- Take Zlatan! Watch Rafael van der Vaart aiming golf drives at a picture of Ibrahimovic’s face (mirror.co.uk)
- Manchester City’s Roberto Mancini quells Zlatan Ibrahimovic rumours (guardian.co.uk)
- Les Bleus primed for success (todayonline.com)