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Larsson's Italian job

Published: Friday 18 June 2004, 19.28CET
Henrik Larsson is mentally preparing himself for Sweden's trial by fire against Italy.
by Henrik Larsson
from Estoril
Published: Friday 18 June 2004, 19.28CET

Larsson's Italian job

Henrik Larsson is mentally preparing himself for Sweden's trial by fire against Italy.
Having opened his account with two goals in Sweden's first Group C game against Bulgaria, Henrik Larsson is gearing up for an even bigger challenge - taking on the traditionally tough Italian defence. It is a difficult task but, as Larsson writes in his latest UEFA EURO 2004™ diary entry, nothing that Lars Lagerbäck and Tommy Söderberg's side cannot manage if they put their minds to it.

On Friday we face Italy in Porto. Obviously Italy are one of the favourites for the tournament, but we can't think about them that way. They are just another team that we need to play.

Respect
You have to respect their players and they have a very good defence. Alessandro Nesta is a great player, very intelligent, and Gianluigi Buffon is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. There is talent all over the pitch and Alessandro Del Piero is one of the all-time greats. Italy are also much better going forward than they used to be.

Unhappy memories
Of course, the Azzurri beat us 2-1 to knock us out of UEFA EURO 2000™, but that was four years ago and we're not thinking about revenge, simply winning the match. We have made a great start but it's important now to keep moving forward. The victory against Bulgaria will only mean something if we get through to the next round.

Talented opponents
There is no key to beating Italy. It is the same as playing any quality side - you have to work hard as a team. We know we will need to be organised in defence and if we get that right we can be confident in attack. We have players who are prepared to run and tackle and support. That is crucial when you are up against a team as talented as the Italians.

'We can beat any side'
We can beat any side if we play to the best of our ability and that is what will be required if we are to stay in this championship. We have made a good start and now we are all keen to get back out on the pitch.

Henrik Larsson was speaking to Mark Sylvester. His personal website is at www.icons.com.

Last updated: 01/02/12 4.28CET

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