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Tough Euro 2016 draw for Sweden

Published söndag 13 december 2015 kl 12.04
"Sweden always know how to come good"
(2:18 min)
Sweden qualified for Euro 2016 by beating Denmark in a play-off. Photo: Janeric Henriksson/TT.
Sweden qualified for Euro 2016 by beating Denmark in a play-off. Photo: Janeric Henriksson/TT.

Sweden were handed a tough group when the draw was made for Euro 2016 in France next summer. World FIFA ranked number 1 Belgium, Euro 2012 finalists Italy and Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland have all been drawn with Sweden in Group E. 

Belgium and Italy are favourites to finish in the top two in Group E, and with the four best nations finishing in third also going through to the last 16, the opening match on June 13 between Sweden and the Republic of Ireland is huge.

"Belgium and Italy are the favourites," admitted Sweden coach Erik Hamrén.

"I said before that it could be really, really tough. And OK, I think it was tough. It's the same in all the groups: different styles of play and different styles of teams.

"I would have liked Austria to get revenge [for the 4-1 home defeat in qualifying]. Belgium are a team for which one has great expectations. This generation has been good for a long time and is still developing. Italy have not been as strong in qualifying this time but are traditionally good in final tournaments.

"We played Ireland in the last Euro qualifiers, and they made it to the final tournament through the play-offs, just like we did," Erik Hamrén told uefa.com.

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill knows all about the Swedish mentality having managed Henrik Larsson at Celtic, and says that Sweden always come good when it matters and his old star player won't be giving him any advice at all.

"It's a tough group. Sweden did well to qualify. They have been around for a long time and they always know how to come good. I've worked with Swedes, Henke Larsson was absolutely world class. He would not tell me anything ! In fact i think he will avoid me for the next six months." 

Italy coach Antonio Conte was full of praise for Sweden's star player Zlatan Ibrahimovic. "A big player, a fantastic player - a top player, " he told SVT sport.

The 24 team tournament begins on 10 June.

 

 

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