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Larsson wary of Petrov threat

Published: Monday 14 June 2004, 13.07CET
euro2004.com diarist Henrik Larsson will have his eye on Stilian Petrov in Sweden's opener.
by Henrik Larsson
Published: Monday 14 June 2004, 13.07CET

Larsson wary of Petrov threat

euro2004.com diarist Henrik Larsson will have his eye on Stilian Petrov in Sweden's opener.
For euro2004.com diarist Henrik Larsson, the long wait for the action to start at UEFA EURO 2004™ is over as Sweden prepare to kick off their campaign against Bulgaria. And the prolific striker is expecting a battle royal with one of his former Celtic FC team-mates.

There is no doubt that one of the main threats to Sweden in our opening game against Bulgaria will come from my old Celtic colleague Stilian Petrov. Stan is a great player - it's as simple as that.

Petrov praise
He has great strength and skill on the ball and drives through from midfield. He can score goals, but perhaps even more importantly he makes the players around him work. He is the sort of player that any team would like to have.

Unwelcome surprises
Obviously I have spoken with him about this match, but we have not said too much to each other. We know how the other one plays so we will probably try to surprise each other a bit when we meet on the field.

Mean defence
Of course Stan is a major threat, but I'm not saying that if we stop him we stop Bulgaria. There are good players throughout the Bulgarian side and they have some very tough defenders like Rosen Kirilov and Milen Petkov.

Overall quality
You only have to see how few goals Bulgaria conceded in the qualifying campaign to realise how hard they are to get past at the back. They also have players in attack like Dimitar Berbatov who like to play good football all the time.

Young bucks
Bulgaria have a relatively young side and I think they are overcoming the problems they had after Hristo Stoitchkov retired. He was obviously a difficult player to replace and it has taken time for the team to come together again. Now, though, they are looking really strong with guys who play their football all over Europe and we know it will be a very tough opener for us.

Fond memories
Obviously I have some good memories of scoring a goal and beating Bulgaria in the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States, but that is a long time ago and these are two different teams. I think we have three players from that side and they might have a couple, so it is very different.

Glorious decade
I am just happy to be in the squad to play a side I faced ten years ago. When you start your career, you dream of appearing in the big competitions for your country and I'm honoured to still be doing that a decade after playing in the World Cup.

Back on board
It has been great to be part of the squad again. We are all looking forward to the game against Bulgaria and eager to get a good start. There are tough matches ahead and it would be great to have a win in the bag. But I'm sure Bulgaria are thinking the same thing and we will just have to see who can find the luck that will make all the difference.

Awkward opponents
We know we have a good side that can make life difficult for the other teams in the tournament. I had a great season with Celtic and it would be fantastic to round that off with a good display in Portugal.

Henrik Larsson was speaking to Claire Nash. His personal website is at www.icons.com
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Last updated: 14/06/04 12.23CET

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