Hodgson calls for ruthless England

14 June 2012 07:19

Roy Hodgson urged England to show a ruthless attacking streak here Thursday as they prepared for their Group D meeting with perennial bogey team Sweden.

England have never beaten Sweden in a competitive fixture but head into Friday's Euro 2012 game at the Olympic Stadium as favourites to take all three points following a 1-1 draw with France.

But while England's defensive display against the French on Monday earned plaudits, Hodgson admitted his side will have to present more of an attacking dimension if they want to defeat the Swedes.

England's solitary goal against France came from a set-piece, and clear-cut goalscoring chances from open play were few -- something Hodgson feels England must improve on Friday.

"I was happy with the start. We played quite well, certain aspects of our game were good," Hodgson told a press conference.

"We must maintain that and, if we are going to win matches, we've got to continue to work hard on the attacking side of the game.

"We have to try to make certain when we do get these good counter-attacking opportunities that we maximise them and take advantage to the full.

"When we win the ball back and break out, we've got to make certain the last pass, cross or actual finish is very clinical.

"It is hard to get good goal chances at this level of football. You are not going to get many during the course of a game and you have to be very effective when the chances come your way.

"I am not talking about the clear-cut one versus ones with the goalkeeper but the situations where you've got behind the defence and it's a question of making certain the last pass gives someone the chance to score a goal.

"That is something we've been working on consistently."

Despite his acknowledgement of England's problems in the final third against France, Hodgson bristled when asked if he felt England were technically inferior to other sides. "No, I don't (think that)," he replied bluntly.

"You work with teams to try and get yourself into a position to deliver the right ball and it all depends on how good that delivery or final pass is.

"But I would definitely question any suggestion that we are lacking in any way and our players are not technically good enough," he said.

"The Premier League is regarded quite widely as being a very good league, a very technical league and we have some of the best players playing in it."

Hodgson admitted his side would be wary of the threat posed by a physical Sweden side from set-pieces.

"We all agree in today's football set-pieces are very important and it is rare not to have respect or concern over the quality of the opponents set-plays," he said.

"All you can do is prepare in the best possible way and make it clear to your team what threat the opponents pose.

"France posed a lot of threats from their set-plays and Sweden will be the same."

England captain Steven Gerrard is confident his side will get the win they need if they are able to reproduce the form shown against France.

"With all due respect to Sweden who are a good strong team -- they're not France," he said. "So I think we can be a little bit more bold, a little bit more ambitious and get at the Swedes a bit more.

"We're confident that if we reach the same level of performance it will be good enough to get the victory."

Source: AFP

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