Stuart Baxter believes England could be "dangerous outsiders" at UEFA EURO 2012, but warned Friday's opponents Sweden also thrive in the role of the underdog.
Having worked in seven different countries across three continents, Baxter is one of very few British coaches who can match Roy Hodgson's multi-national experience. Like the England coach, he also boasts an intimate knowledge of the Swedish game following spells with Örebro SK, Halmstads BK, AIK Solna and Helsingborgs IF.
"I know that the Swedes love to be underdogs and they're very dangerous when they are underdogs," Baxter told UEFA.com. "Also, I think their way of playing can frustrate England. They have smothered England many times before."
Indeed, the Three Lions only beat the Scandinavians for the first time in over 40 years in last November's friendly at Wembley and are yet to get the better of them at a major international tournament. Still, Baxter believes Hodgson's own understanding of Swedish football could be key to bucking that trend.
"Roy will know everything about the team," explained the 58-year-old. "He will know the players, he will know the manager, he will know the way they will build up for the game, he will probably know what drink they are having at half-time, so that is an advantage."
A former international coach himself with South Africa and Finland, Baxter suggested the unusual circumstances in which Hodgson took over the England side have contributed to lowered expectations among fans, meaning the squad have little to lose in Poland and Ukraine.
"I think people are understanding the difficulties that Roy's had coming in at such short notice, the fact that we have a few players missing and that the preparations have not been optimal. I think that may release a little bit of the pressure from the shoulders of the players and therefore we may see, paradoxically, a better performance."
Baxter has recently accepted a new role to take the helm at South African club Kaizer Chiefs FC but is currently out in Poland as a pundit for Swedish television, a role which has enabled him to monitor closely the development of England's second Group D opponents. "I think the biggest difference is that Erik Hamrén's Sweden open up a little bit more and want to try and pick their way through," he said. "They may take a few more risks, which means they can be hit on counters."
However, Baxter also warned that after losing their opening group fixture 2-1 to co-hosts Ukraine, the Swedes now have "a knife at their throat" and will be doing everything in their power to force a result against England, who will also be eager to rack up their first win. "It'll be a good game, it'll be an interesting game, but one that is going to be bad news for somebody."
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