England v Sweden - preview
Wayne Rooney starts in place of Peter Crouch. Can be seen as one way to evade Crouch receiving another booking and missing out on the 2nd round, another way is it brings in Rooney to start, practically what most of the nation wants to see. Not alone upfront, Rooney does not like that either, so he's with Michael Owen. Owen said England will not play the longer balls as he and Rooney are not that tall. Ridiculous. He also said once there is someone behind him or someone in midfield looking up he comes alive. Ridiculous. While Owen hasn't been receiving ball after ball, pass after pass, he has had some moments of good opportunity, plus he hs been known to practically break into spaces to be passed to. Rooney likes to sit back and hold the ball, or turn and take on players. Owen likes the person behind him to drag at least one player out of defence, so we will see how comfortable he is tonight. Nonetheless, Rooney and Owen is ideal, Crouch not to play.
Steven Gerrard is withdrawn to protect his booking, which leaves the central midfield spot for owen Hargreaves, presumably. There must be something wrong with Michael Carrick, for me better to play there than Hargreaves at the moment. I would use Carrick behind a three of David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole. If Gerrard is to be protected, what about Lampard? We need him to help win the game, but we are in the 2nd round, should we not protect him too? Carrick behind Hargreaves in the middle?!?! OK, Hargreaves behind Carrick in the middle?!?! [Scratches head] Well, it's not unheard of for a player to look something of a stinker but then go on to play a blinder. I hope Hargreaves can prove that tonight. Other point with midfield is Rooney could drop and be an ad-hoc central midfielder, depending how Sven-Goran Eriksson wishes to use Rooney, given the preference to bring him through gently following his recovery.
The other change is of no surprise when you hear Gary Neville is still injured, that of Jamie Carragher at right-back. I have already mentioned of Sweden's attacking prowess, hindered by Zlatan Ibrahimovic's injury. Marcus Allback and Henrik Larsson are capable of damaging sides, though they failed to score in both matches but nonetheless they are capable with a backing midfield of Kim Kallstrom, Freddie Ljungberg and Christian Wilhelmsson, also the defensive qualities of Tobias Linderoth. It will be an interesting test, which will depend on how England choose to attack from the kick-off and how they use pace in their attack.