Sweden again demonstrated their seeming inability to defend headers at set pieces in their defeat to co hosts Ukraine in their Euro 2012 opener. Despite this problem head coach Erik Hamren is not overly worried by the issue.
Sweden took the lead in their opener only to fall foul to two headers from Ukrainian hero Andriy Shevchenko. Shevchenko’s brace means that the Swedes have now conceded five headed goals in their last three games. With England, who are fast becoming set piece specialists next on the cards the Swedes will have to improve quickly or face falling foul to the likes of John Terry, Wayne Rooney and Andy Carroll, all specialists in the air.
Hamren, though was eager to focus on praising Shevchenko’s instinctive finishing rather than criticising his sides defending. “He was really good in the box, two really good goals. That made the result. Good for him, bad for us.” Whilst this is a gracious way to take defeat it will not be of much help to the Swedes in their upcoming fixtures against France and England. If they are to qualify they will have to turn their form around and one would imagine would have to take something from both of their remaining games, starting with Friday’s clash with Steven Gerrard‘s England.
Hamren insisted that his side would not get “hung up” on their defensive frailties, having conceded from three headers in their recent games against Iceland and Serbia coming into this tournament. Prior to the Ukraine game they insisted they would worry about the defensive problems “the day we lose”. Well, having now lost to Ukraine it may well be time for the Swedes to start to worry and to do something about their aerial problems, and soon. Their task will be hard enough against both England and France and they do not want to be gifting either side easy chances in the air.