Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Live Thoughts: England vs Sweden (Friendly)

I covered this match live. Here are my unedited thoughts on the match between England and Sweden.

Good evening, welcome to another Live Thoughts post. After the very defensive yet ultimately successful victory over world champions Spain, it's time for England to break more ground. We haven't beaten Sweden in 43 years. That's an incredible statistic. I never knew about it. We've had many many draws against Sweden and they've beaten us a few times, but we haven't beaten Sweden in nearly half a century. Let's break that duck tonight. We have the players and hopefully the confidence, and we're at Wembley. Let's do it!

Here are the teams:

England: Hart, Walker, Cahill, Terry, Baines, Jones, Barry, Rodwell, Walcott, Zamora, Downing. Subs: Carson, Glen Johnson, Cole, Lescott, Parker, Lampard, Milner, Adam Johnson, Sturridge, Bent, Stockdale.

Quite an inexperienced side today, with Terry, Barry and Downing having the most experience. There's a few younger guys that get a nice start, Kyle Walker is someone that has impressed me a lot this season, him and Rodwell from the starting 11. This team is enough to beat Sweden on paper.

Sweden: Isaksson, Lustig, Majstorovic, Mellberg, M. Olsson, Elm, Kallstrom, Larsson, Wernbloom, Elmander, Ibrahimovic. Subs: Wiland, Bajrami, Svensson, Granqvist, Safari, Gerndt, Almeback, Holmen, Jonas Olsson, Toivonen, Wilhelmsson.

It's as strong as Sweden can be, they still have some talent in this team, Elm and Larsson in the midfield and Elmander and Ibrahimovic on their day can score against anyone. They woin't be easy but we should be winning today.

3' - England are on the front foot, completely different to when we took on Spain. 

6' - If you're wondering, John Terry is getting booed, but not as much as people expected. It doesn't matter anyway, let the police and the FA deal with that.

9' - Not much to report at the moment, it's mainly England trying to break down Sweden and failing. 

12' - Free kick in a very dangerous area for Sweden. It hits the wall and is dealt with.

14' - A nice little run from Walcott ends in a corner, one that we can't take advantage of. 

17' - Finally some activity. A nice run from Walcott feeds in Zamora who mistimes his first attempt, and tries to slide in a second and it hits the side netting. 

18' - Haha, only 12 goals have been scored from the 11 players on the England pitch, 6 of them goals have come from John Terry. At least it proves we're fielding a weakened side. 

20' - Wow another good statistic, Joe Hart has played 15 times for England and he's never lost a match, 10 wins, 5 draws. He is a brilliant keeper, I'm so happy we've resolved our keeper crisis.

21' - GOAL! England's 2000th goal (another statistic) goes to Gareth Barry, a lovely cross from Liverpool's own Stewart Downing lands perfectly on Barry's head and it goes into the bottom right corner! 

24' - Replays show that the ball actually hit Daniel Majstorovic last, so it could be an own goal.

27' - They just brought up the phenomenal goal Liverpool's Joe Cole scored against Sweden five years ago. Haven't seen it? Here it is.

30' - We had a decent spell after the goal for a few minutes, it seems to be dying down at the moment, let's hope not and we can hopefully build up for a 2 goal lead before half time. 

32' - A corner from Rasmus Elm almost goes in! A lovely curl on the ball, Joe Hart palms it wide. 

34' - After a pinch perfect cross for the goal, Stewart Downing takes a free kick way over the entire penalty area. Hey ho. 

36' - Kim Kallstrom puts in a potentially dangerous tackle on Kyle Walker and the whistle blows. Johan Elmander protests and goes in the book. A little harsh for a friendly.

37' - RODWELL! Close. It goes for a corner, and that corner is dealt with.

40' - Phil Jones is free of the defence and running towards goal! He tries to tap it past the keeper and it goes wide. Should have done better. 

41' - A difficult corner ends in a Swedish player hitting the post, but it was offside anyway.

43' - RODWELL! My god how did he miss! Downing takes on a defender on the left wing and whips in a lovely cross for an empty net, and Rodwell heads it wide to the right. Awful miss. Gutted. 

45' - Half time, no added minutes.

A decent first half display for England, we got the goal and tries a few more times. The game and the performance isn't anything spectacular, but it's been good enough. We deserve our lead. Let's hope we can build on it in the second half, as Sweden have barely been in it for long periods.

45' - Sweden Subsitutions: Ola Toivonen and Jonas Olsson come on for Olaf Mellberg and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

45' - England Substitution: Scott Carson gets his first cap in three years while Joe Hart comes off.

45' - Downing had a good run down the left wing and Zamora almost made it to his decent square ball. Close.

48' - Downing has put a few good balls down the left wing early in this second half, he's had a good game for the most part so far. 

51' - You know something, we criticise Fabio Capello a lot but he has the best win ratio of all the England managers in history. He's had 42 games so far, and he's won 26. That's pretty damn good. 

55' - Sweden start to gain confidence all of a sudden, and get a little move going that ends with Toivonen hitting it over the bar.

56' - A Swedish corner is dealt with nicely by Walcott who claims the ball, cuts the ball away from three Swedish players and clears it. Any right back would be proud of that. 

57' - England Substitutions: James Milner and Daniel Sturridge come on for Jack Rodwell and Theo Walcott.

58' - Daniel Sturridge has the ball outside of the penalty area on the right and tries to get into the box and three Swedish players top him, he eventually falls to the floor. He gets the points for effort. 

61' - The game has slowed down slightly for the moment, nothing much to report. 

63' - Leighton Baines passes the ball to Downing down the left flank and Downing squares a half volley to the path of Zamora who's shot is deflected for a corner. Nice move. The corner dissolves quickly however. 

65' - Stewart Downing storms down the pitch like a striker and his shot while decent, goes wide. He's definitely been the best player on the pitch today. 

68' - The game suddenly has become more exciting, both teams going for it at the moment. 

69' - England Substitution - Darren Bent comes on for Bobby Zamora, who had an okay game, didn't do anything great but tries hard.

69' - Sweden Substitution: Anders Svensson comes on for Kim Kallstrom. 

72' - As I said the game's quite open now, not that there's been any major chances for a while. 

74' - The ball gets passed back to Isaksson, the Swedish keeper, and Downing closes him down nicely and makes him kick the ball badly for a throw in. Good work from Downing again.

77' - They're still going on about the Barry goal possibly being put down as an own goal. It's because it was the 2000th goal. It's a little silly to complain about it I think, just because it's a landmark number. 

77' - Larsson takes a curling shot at goal and Carson thumps it awkwardly away from goal. It was a difficult shot to deal with and Carson did just enough. 

81' - A deep cross from Milner connects to Bent's head, but it goes over his head and over the other side of the penalty area. Not the right connection unfortunately. 

82' - Confirmation, Ireland have made it to the Euros! Very happy for our Irish brothers. Just in case you didn't know, I support all the UK and Irish sides, unless we face each other. Great stuff for the green men. 

85' - The game is slowing down, Sweden aren't really taking it to us and we're comfortable. Let's hope it stays this way.

86' - Swedish Substitution: Emir Bajrami comes on for Rasmus Elm.

87' - Kyle Walker wins the man of the match award, no problems with that from me. I think Downing has been the best player personally, but Walker has had a great game too, he's been a bit of a menace down the right wing and has defended well too. 

90' - Two minutes of stoppage time. 

90+1' - Wilhelmsson! Over the bar! It was a great cross and Wilhelmsson almost made it count.

90+2' - Full time.

We've ended our 43 year winless streak against Sweden! Woohoo! It was a satisfactory performance, Sweden barely turned up today and we dealt with them comfortably and professionally. We didn't give them many chances and we had a decent few ourselves. The one goal was enough. We end 2011 undefeated actually, that's pretty remarkable. We did a lot of poor draws in that time but to say we never lost a single match this year is cool. I think our confidence heading closer to the Euros has risen which is great. As I said, the problem with England is when we start turning that into cockiness. We need to be humble, respectful and confident, a hard thing to balance. Anyway, that's another night of football finished, enjoy the rest of it, whatever you're doing.

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