Euro 2012: Gerrard's 'not as good as France' jibe angers Swedes
Steven Gerrard last night said that England expected to beat Sweden in today's Euro 2012 Group D match because their opponents were not as a good a team as France.
It was an attempt at radiating positivity -- but it also inadvertently fuelled the charge of arrogance laid at England's door by Swedish midfielder Anders Svensson.
"With all due respect to Sweden, they are not France," England's captain maintained.
"I can't say that Sweden are a similar standard because you know yourselves that they're not. That means our whole team can be slightly more ambitious and attack more and take slightly more risks.
"Maybe you will see a better performance going forward, but what is more important is that the team are solid and together.
"We are confident that, if we reach the same level of performance (as against France), it will lead to a victory."
Gerrard, with Scott Parker alongside him, appeared to run himself to exhaustion in the stifling heat of Donetsk and Roy Hodgson is aware he has to be careful he handles the two thirty-somethings carefully after injury ruled out Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry and Jack Wilshere.
England are short of cover while Gerrard is nursing a long-standing back complaint and Parker, who was substituted against France, is still returning to full fitness after an Achilles problem.
Unsurprisingly, Gerrard brushed aside such concerns, although the England management is acutely aware that the final group match against Ukraine next Tuesday will be their third game in eight days.
"I didn't find the conditions were too bad in the first game," Gerrard said. "Everyone was talking about how hot it was going to be but I thought all the lads performed well." (© Daily Telegraph, London)