Sunday, December 5, 2021

Spain wary of Ibrahimovic-Larsson threat

SoccerNews in European Championships 13 Jun 2008


Spain admitted on Friday they are wary of the twin threat posed by Sweden’s dynamic strike pairing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Larsson when the teams meet in Saturday’s Group B clash here.

A victory for either side would almost certainly assure them of a place in the quarter-finals after both won their first matches.

But despite their stunning form in the opening 4-1 dissection of Russia, Spain’s players are not getting carried away and insisted that they will have their work cut out in keeping Sweden’s front men quiet – with Ibrahimovic having scored in the 2-0 win over titleholders Greece.

“We’ve got to try to stop them,” said Villarreal midfield enforcer Marcos Senna, a Brazilian by birth.

“Both of them have experience and quality, we will have to concentrate very hard against them or we’ll concede goals.”

Centre-back Carlos Marchena said both of them are fine individual players but together they form a lethal partnership.

“We know them individually in their respective teams but when they play together they understand each other perfectly.”

But Marchena – who in 42 appearances at centreback has never been on a losing Spanish side – insisted Sweden are not only about certain individuals.

“It’s no good when a team depends on just one player but they have a great team, they’re good all over the park, very good footballers.

“Perhaps those two are their best known players but there’s a great team backing them up.”

Spain midfielder Cesc Fabregas said he was looking forward to playing against his former Arsenal team-mate Sebastian Larsson, who this season suffered relegation from the Premier League with Birmingham City.

“He’s a friend of mine. He’s a great player, he couldn’t make it at Arsenal because there are so many players that there’s a lot of competition but sometimes it’s good to take one step back in order to take two forward.

“It’s a shame they (Birmingham) went down but now he’s at the European Championships and playing well.

“I’m sure tomorrow he’ll play against Spain and I wish him the best although I hope he doesn’t play his best match tomorrow.”

At least Larsson is likely to start for Sweden, whereas Fabregas will start on the bench, as he did against Russia, with Spain coach Luis Aragones sticking to the side that won so convincingly.

Fabregas said he was accepting his backstage role, though.

“For me it’s not hard at all as I can see there are great players with the national team,” he said.

“I want to be in the starting 11 but when I have to help the team from the bench, whatever the boss wants me to do, I will be there to help.

“It’s not a problem to be on the bench, I know I can help the team also from the bench and I will try to help the boss when I can.”


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