Q & A
Football's biggest stars in the hot seat
The Sunderland and Sweden midfielder tells FourFourTwo he's looking forward to Euro 2012
FFT: How would you describe the mood in the camp going into the Euros?
SL: There is a lot of excitement because we want to make up for lost time. We're quite used to playing in the major tournaments and because we missed out on the last World Cup, this is a really big deal for us.
What do you make of your group?
My first reaction was that it would be a fun group to play in because when you're playing a host nation, as we are, it's always going to be a special game, although it will be hard with the partisan fans. Everyone will have England and France as favourites to go through but we know what we can do. If we are at our best we are capable of winning our group games.
Which teams do you count as the favourites to win the trophy?
I’d have to go with the obvious in Spain, with Holland their closest challengers. Germany always do well so they would be my third favourites, then it would be France and England.
Some people have said the Euros is more difficult to win than the World Cup. What do you think?
I can understand why people are saying that because I think these days the Euros is extremely tight in all the groups. There's not a lot between the teams and so it should be very competitive from the word go.
What are your own ambitions heading into the tournament?
The main thing is for me to get into the team and play. I was involved four years ago but I didn’t really play much. Now, though, because I’ve played throughout the qualifiers, I feel more of an important part of the team.
Why can’t England beat you in a competitive game?
That’s a good question! One possible factor is that it's always a big game for Sweden because English football is so popular back home. It has always been on the telly, so to take on the English is always a big game for us.
Will your knowledge of England and their players prove vital?
Well, it can’t do any harm, can it? It’s the little things that can make all the difference at this level. It's important that we are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, but it's more important we make sure we play to the best of our ability.
How important is Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Sweden? Is it up to you to provide the crosses for him?
Zlatan is our captain so he is extremely important in more ways than one. When he can perform at his best, we have a different dimension to our game. But we can’t just give him the ball and then stand and stare. We need to make sure he gets plenty of support.
Interview by Rob Stewart. From the June 2012 issue of FourFourTwo.
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