Lagerback: We'll keep up the run
Sweden are determined to hold on to their 38-year undefeated record against England whatever the result in the Germany-Ecuador match, coach Lars Lagerback told reporters on Monday.
The winners and runners-up from Group B will know their second-round opponents the hosts or the South Americans - ahead of kick off, but Sweden's coach denies it will affect his game plan.
"That result won't affect us. We'll go out there to win which will give us an extra day of rest," said Lagerback who sat on the bench alongside Tommy Soderberg four years ago when the teams played out a 1-1 draw in the group stage in Japan. "It's important to at least get a draw. If we win, then thank you very much."
Go to the Sweden team page The 57-year-old, whose country have not lost to England in 11 matches since 1968, said he had no obvious explanation for the run.
"My theory is we've always had a lot of players playing in England so they know the mentality of the game there," he said. "That could again play to our advantage. This squad has a lot of character. When we play against big nations, we're always in the match. I'm positive about tomorrow as we always play with confidence against England."
Sweden are two points behind group leaders England and three above the third-place team Trinidad and Tobago. A draw would guarantee qualification to the next phase and a win would secure top spot. But if Germany draw or lose against Ecuador, then victory would bring the daunting prospect of a last 16 confrontation against the home nation.
Midfielder Kim Kallstrom, influential in the 1-0 defeat of Paraguay, said he would not go out his way to discover the result: "We must focus on our game. We'll go for the win and then see who we face. We've not qualified yet."
The Scandinavians' one injury doubt is their star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic with Markus Allback waiting in the wings. "He is the only question mark. Let's wait until tomorrow," added Lagerback giving nothing away. "Zlatan can do things that few other forwards are capable of. Allback's strength lies with his ability to link up with the midfield and being a clinical finisher."
As has become the norm since the England forward's injury more than a month ago, the possible return of Rooney dominated discussion.
"He is a great player," said Sweden captain Olof Mellberg. "If he has a good game, it's difficult to stop him. But we haven't talked about that much. We'll face England as a team rather than individuals and we'll focus on our own game. We have to stop them using the wings and having too much time on the ball. We know it's part of their game."
The Aston Villa defender admitted playing against 6ft 7in (2m) tall Peter Crouch would be a different proposition. "I think they play more long balls if Crouch is on the pitch," he added. "If it's Rooney and Owen, they'll be more of a threat on the ground."
Lagerback agreed: "Rooney is world class. Every team would like to have him. If he plays instead of Crouch, we can expect a different approach."
With expectations high ahead of the tournament, the England and Sweden media have not exactly been complimentary of their teams' performances so far. Lagerback believes the criticism unfair. "There is not a big difference between England, Sweden and Paraguay," he reasoned. "I think we've done well in our games and the only thing I'm dissatisfied about is not taking our goalscoring chances.
"England are very solid they don't give much away. They know what the business is all about, let's say. It's tough to judge what is good football and premature to predict how well they will do. You have to win matches. We're expecting a tight game."
Sweden meet England in Cologne on 20 June in their third and final group game.