Friday, June 16, 2006

The Late, Late Show

Paraguay 0-1 Sweden

With five minutes to go in this match, you had to feel some sympathy for the Swedes. For 175 minutes, they'd battered their oppositions, doing everything except for putting the ball in the back of the net. Then, in one moment, the Paraguayan defence was opened up, Freddie Ljungberg scored, and justice was done.

For a team that needed a win to be all but certain of going out, Paraguay played appallingly defensively. How many teams are going to try the same thing this summer? Turn up, do the bare minimum to stay in the tournament, and then depend on getting a result in their final match to go through? To be fair, Bobadilla, the Paraguayan goalkeeper, deserved better, even if very few of his team-mates did. He made brilliant saves from Kallstrom and Larsson, and when he was beaten in the second half by Allback, Caniza raced ack to hack the ball back from the goal-line. He received a smack in the moouth from the frame of the goal for his troubles. They seemed fated not to score until Larsson intelligently headed across the goal for Ljungberg to keep Sweden's hopes of winning the group alive.

The question is, of course, this: where does it leave England? Well, Sweden are unlikely to get as many chances as the seventy-odd that they have missed in their first two matches against England, so there is reason for England to be optimstic. We will also know twenty-four hours before hand what we have to do. I think that England should play their strongest team, and that they should play to win the match. My suspicion is that Sweden will be a tougher test than Paraguay or T&T. England can't afford another performance like the first two if they want to have a run in these finals.

Sweden got what they deserved from this match. They were, again, wasteful in front of goal, and they can't afford to be again on Tuesday, or they may even let Paraguay in throught the backdoor. For now, I can't see them getting much further than the second round, but I don't think we've seen the best of them yet.


iainvc said...

Paraguay are out. It is only TnT who can sneak through. I suspect the Eng v Swe game will be a nightmare to watch. Sweden only need to draw to qualify; England only need to draw to top the group. Why would Sweden risk losing?
I think England need to play Germany next to be honest. That team need some fire in the belly to get them going, and the Sweden game wont provide it. So it worries me that going into a game against Ecuador some complacency might linger on. England would never be complacent against the Germans. Additionally I think we have the beating of the Germans at the moment. They have had an ok start but they should have beaten a poor Polish side more easily. We could really do with knocking the Germans out of a big tournament - the 5-1 Munich victory turned out to be hollow - they made the final, and we just did what we always do.

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