Larsson: We're focused on our own game
© AFP

Sebastian Larsson says Sweden are happy to be underdogs as they attempt to bounce back from their opening defeat against Ukraine in a crucial Group D game with England on Friday.

Sweden's hopes of qualifying for the UEFA EURO 2012 knockout rounds suffered a damaging blow on Monday after a disappointing 2-1 defeat by co-hosts Ukraine. A further loss against England on Friday will see the Scandinavians eliminated from the tournament after two games.

Sweden have spent the days following their opening defeat soul-searching, with coach Erik Hamren branding his team's performance "cowardly". Sunderland midfielder Larsson admitted Sweden had been stung by their failure to perform against Ukraine, and is determined to make amends against England.

"Most people would say England are favourites and that's fine by us," Larsson said. "We don't worry about what people think and who are the favourites. We just worry about ourselves and trying to reach the level that we can because that's what we didn't do against Ukraine.

We don't worry about what people think and who are the favourites. We just worry about ourselves.
Sweden midfielder Sebastian Larsson ahead of facing England

"The game against Ukraine was not one of my better ones. We didn't reach the level we were looking for. Not in the first half. It was hard to seize this game. Personally, I feel a strong desire to play a good game against England."

Sweden coach Hamren, meanwhile, reiterated his belief that aspects of his team's performance had been "cowardly" but denied he had called his players cowards. "We were acting a bit too cowardly in the first half," Hamren said. "If you had taken that the wrong way you would have said that I said the player were cowards. But we were cowardly as a team."

Hamren said Sweden must improve their finishing to have a chance of success against England. "We have to look at the chances that we had against Ukraine," he said. "We had four big chances and we weren't able to score. If we're going to win tomorrow we need to perform better tactically and physically."

Hamren insisted, however, that the mood in the Swedish camp remained positive despite the bitter disappointment of Monday's loss. "My feelings are very good," he said. "It's been a tough time since the loss against Ukraine. It hurts to lose and when the result is not good you don't feel good as a player or a leader. Our performance is not what we were wishing for but these feelings disappeared quite fast."