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Sweden – Wales Preview: Hamren not distracted by Ibrahimovic’s domestic future

Sweden coach Erik Hamren is refusing to allow Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s domestic future to become a distraction as they round off preparations for Euro 2016 against Wales on Sunday.

Media reports in England suggest that superstar striker Ibrahimovic is on the verge on penning a one-year deal with Manchester United, having opted to end his stay at Paris Saint-Germain following another prolific season that saw him score 50 goals in all competitions.

Should Ibrahimovic, who has won domestic titles in Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France, opt to move to Old Trafford, he would be reunited with manager Jose Mourinho, with whom he worked at Inter.

Hamren, who will leave his post after the Euros in France, fielded questions about Ibrahimovic at a news conference but suggested the 34-year-old would need to resolve his future on a day off.

“We have days off. We plan our activities and the players can act based on that,” Hamren said. “I’m not going to speculate about such things.”

For Chris Coleman’s Wales, there is a certain poetic feel about the contest at Stockholm’s Friends Arena.

Sweden was the location of the 1958 World Cup – Wales’ last appearance at a major tournament – and will now host the country’s final Euro 2016 warm-up.

Coleman spoke of having no fear about facing a “monster of a man” in Ibrahimovic at a pre-match news conference, and the former Fulham boss is able to call on a global superstar of his own in the form of Gareth Bale, who has not featured for his country since the qualifying victory over Andorra last October.

It remains to be seen how many minutes Bale is handed given his involvement in Real Madrid’s Champions League final win over city rivals Atletico Madrid last weekend, which came via a penalty shoot-out.

“It was 120 minutes for Gareth last week and it is also what happened 48 hours later,” Coleman said.

“Gareth doesn’t drink alcohol, but it’s the travel and celebrating. So we will look at that. But if there is a chance that we can give him some minutes, then yes we will.

“It is important for him to be not only on the training pitch, but the real thing before we kick off.”

Wales are aiming to generate some momentum ahead of their Group B opener versus Slovakia in Bordeaux, having failed to win their past three matches.

And it is a similar story for Sweden, who are themselves winless in three games and open their Euro 2016 campaign against the Republic of Ireland on June 13.

Sat 4 Jun, 2016
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