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Nov 15, 2011

Sweden boss tips England for Euros

Sweden boss Erik Hamren has said he expects England to challenge the tournament favourites at Euro 2012 in the summer as he prepares his team to face Fabio Capello's men at Wembley on Tuesday night.

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England surprisingly beat world champions Spain 1-0 on Saturday night but despite the morale-boosting friendly victory Capello has been criticised for employing ultra-defensive tactics that highlighted an obvious gulf in class between the two countries.

However, Hamren claims England have proved they are not far behind the World Cup winners and will be one of the teams to look out for at the European Championships.

"It's the three big countries - Spain, Holland and Germany - who are the favourites of course,'' the Sweden manager said. "England are one of the teams, one of the countries, who can take the challenge.''

That is even without Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard or Jack Wilshere, according to Hamren, who will not have to deal with that trio during Tuesday's friendly.

"If you see the squad, you can put some really, really good players in instead of them,'' he said. "You need a good squad. You need to win the games when you have players injured and suspended.''

Sweden and Sunderland winger Sebastian Larsson suggested part of the reason for England's failure at major tournaments was the unrealistic expectations of the media.

"If you look at the players that they've got, they should be up there amongst the favourites for each tournament they've been in,'' he said. "But, at the same time, the pressure might become a little bit too much.

"Maybe they shouldn't be the top favourites for each and every tournament, the way they're maybe pictured to be in England sometimes.''

England are tagged favourites for Tuesday's match, as they have been virtually every time they have played Sweden. However, they have repeatedly come unstuck against the Scandinavians, who boast a 12-match, 43-year unbeaten record against them.

Larsson said: "I've certainly let my English colleagues up at Sunderland know before this game. It's a funny statistic and hopefully we can keep it going for a few more years and reach at least 50.''

Hamren added: "We have been good - and we have been lucky.''

But the Sweden boss played down the significance of the record, insisting it only made a difference to those players in his squad who had faced England before.

"If you've done it once - like England beating Spain - then you know that you can do it again,'' he said. "Those players who have beaten England before, they know it.''

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