Expert analysis of the events in Poland and Ukraine
England’s display in their Group D opener against the French was symptomatic of what fans have already come to expect from the Three Lions under Roy Hodgson.
Tactically disciplined and typically spirited, Monday’s performance ‘built a solid foundation’ in England’s bid to qualify from their group and reach the quarter-finals.
Scott Parker provided the reality check after the Donbass Arena draw, saying: “I don't know if you can win tournaments playing like that.” And with the ‘hardest game’ now out of the way, the onus will be on England to attack a tad more against a Sweden side now desperate for points after being upset by co-hosts Ukraine.
Tireless front duo Danny Welbeck and Ashley Young were at the heart of England’s brightest moments in the opening 30 minutes, culminating in Joleon Lescott’s goal.
However, Hodgson may just be tempted to adopt a different approach at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium on Friday evening, given their opponents' susceptibility in a certain area.
Sweden appeared well set to kick off their Euro 2012 campaign with three points after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s opener, but contrived to throw them away after a quick-fire couple from home hero Andriy Shevchenko – both headers.
Sheva’s aerial double means Erik Hamren’s side have now conceded five consecutive goals from headers, with Sweden also allowing Serbia and Iceland (twice) to net with their noggins in two warm-up matches ahead of the tournament (videos below).
Three of those goals have come from corner-kicks, with the zonal marking system currently employed evidently leaving the Scandinavians in a bit of pickle at set-pieces.
It continued against the co-hosts, with Ukraine finding a team-mate with two of their three flag-kicks, while three of the four headed clearances Sweden attempted inside their own penalty area were unsuccessful.
Andy Carroll’s inclusion in Hodgson’s final 23-man squad may have come as a surprise after a disappointing season with Liverpool, but the big man got the nod, thanks largely to two domineering displays against England colleague John Terry in May.
In Liverpool’s 4-1 victory over Chelsea at Anfield – four days after his impressive cameo in the FA Cup Final – Carroll won all seven of his aerial duels, as well as teeing up Daniel Agger to score the Reds’ third.
Sweden’s defence could therefore do without his presence in Kiev, and given the right delivery from Messrs Young, Milner and (and maybe even Downing), Carroll’s contribution could prove key if England are to alleviate some pressure ahead of the Ukraine clash.Videos
Serbia’s goal v Sweden
Iceland’s goals v Sweden
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