Euro Mills & Boom: All eyes on Zlatan

Date published: Friday 15th June 2012 12:51

Hi everyone, Danny here checking in from Poland. You can hear my thoughts on Euro 2012 every morning on Sky Sports News Radio.

Have a read and leave a Comment below.

Rocking in Wroclaw

I’m still in Wroclaw! It’s getting a bit like Groundhog Day to be honest as it’s possibly the least entertaining of all the host cities. The most entertaining thing that happened this morning was I fell over going for a run! We were out in town last night around the fan parks, but I can’t even say I was still drunk when I took a tumble.

Spain pain for Ireland

We always knew it was going to be very tough for the Irish, and Spain certainly showed their true class and quality on Thursday night as they ran out deserved 4-0 winners.

In the first game, Spain weren’t brilliant – they played with a slightly different formation and personnel with Fabregas up front, and it didn’t really work. So it wasn’t a big surprise that Vicente del Bosque changed that and started with Fernando Torres in Gdansk.

I thought he took his first goal exceptionally well – that was reminiscent of the old Torres. I thought he’d almost fluffed it on his second, he went through and his first touch was very good but on his second, he seemed to just get the ball caught under his feet and I thought his chance was gone. But then having watched it on the replays, it was almost a dummy if you like. He did incredibly well and then scored past Shay Given to round off a fantastic win for the Spanish.

Spain are looking very good. My pre-tournament favourites were the Dutch, who need a miracle just to get through now! The Spanish and the Germans look exceptional and it’s hard to see past either of those two winning it at the moment.

England’s Andy man

I can understand why Andy Carroll is set to start against Sweden in Kiev tonight.

A draw in the first game against France was a good result, and a decent platform. We’d have all liked to see a more attacking England though and Roy Hodgson realises that if they are going to beat Sweden, they’re going to have to do that.

One of the issues in the first game was that England couldn’t get high enough up the pitch – they couldn’t get the support to the front men, and couldn’t retain the ball for long enough.

So I think with Carroll coming in, he will offer that. The option is there that if England need to go direct quicker, into his feet or chest, he will hold the ball up and people can support him from behind.

I think Hodgson is a very clever man and he will pick his team and tactics for each individual game. It’s not a must-win – England have to be relatively cautious – and I don’t think there’s an awful lot different between these two teams. Sweden are probably the most like England in this tournament, they play in a similar style and have similar quality players – but they’ve got Ibrahimovic, and we don’t have Wayne Rooney.

I think it’s fair to say Sweden are fully aware they’re not world beaters, but through hard work and organisation, they’ve proved they can be a very good side. I’ve played Sweden several times – such as in World Cup 2002 in Saitama, where we weren’t able to beat them. And of course I was involved in the equalising goal, which was a bit disappointing. But in that same tournament, we had to go on and play Argentina who we’d never beaten in a competitive game and we defeated them 1-0.

Anything is possible. If England play well and play at a slightly higher tempo – this will be more of a Premier League style game, after all – England certainly have a chance of taking all three points.

Swedes so hard to beat

Will England’s poor record against Sweden play on their minds? It is a cliché, but you go out and you want to win every single game. Not many of these players will have played against Sweden in a competitive tournament so it’s completely irrelevant to them.

It doesn’t matter who it is – these players will approach the game in the same way. You respect the players, but the actual name of the country doesn’t matter until afterwards.

Sweden don’t have the quality they used to have, such as the likes of Henrik Larsson and Freddie Ljungberg.

But Zlatan Ibrahimovic, on his day, can be incredible. He is a very talented player and if he fancies it and is up for it, he certainly can cause problems.

But I think player for player, the teams are well matched. England don’t need to win the game in the first five minutes, and to put it simply, they must not get beat.

Ox takes a break

If Andy Carroll does come in, it’s a little tough on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – but it’s no real slight on him. As I’ve said, Hodgson approaches every single game on its own merits, and having that focal point up front is good.

Ashley Young has more experience, so it’s natural to think Hodgson feels he can trust him more. You tend to go on reliability in under-pressure situations and you’re more likely to know what you’re going to get from Young than Oxlade-Chamberlain. Apart from that, I can’t see any changes as defensively, we were sound.

As for talk of fatigue in the midfield… it’s warm out here and you just have to deal with it. But it’s much harder and physically more demanding when you don’t have the ball, and that’s where England have suffered in the past. We seem to have this mentality that the moment we get the ball, we have to go and score. We play it too early – you have to be patient. As you saw with the Irish and the Spanish on Thursday, it’s very hard mentally and physically when you’re chasing the ball all the time.

Mood among the fans

The Irish are here for a holiday really – their expectations were very low, and they were under no illusions. For England fans, it’s difficult to gauge their emotions. Optimism or pessimism? It seems like more of a numbness. If the team wins tonight, that may change. Everyone’s waiting cautiously and nervously to see what will happen.

I think a draw is the likely outcome, and that may be enough. It could set up an elimination game against Ukraine in Donetsk on Tuesday.

Some teams are better suited at going out and having to win rather than getting a point. A draw would be decent – especially if the performance is better.

You can listen to Danny on Sky Sports News Radio every day during Euro 2012.

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