Swedish league goalkeepers can offer no comfort to teams coming up against Helsingborgs IF's Henrik Larsson in Europe this season, with one noting that it is "impossible to prepare" for facing him.
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Swedish league goalkeepers can offer no comfort to teams coming up against Helsingborgs IF's Henrik Larsson in Europe this season, with one noting it is "impossible to prepare" for facing the 37-year-old.
Larsson's two goals against Armenian club FC MIKA in the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round took the striker's total to 58 goals in UEFA club competition – eighth in the all-time table headed by AC Milan's Filippo Inzaghi and Raúl González of Real Madrid CF on 66 apiece. The former Feyenoord, Celtic FC, FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC man may be getting on in years, but he has not lost his eye for goal.
A groin injury has somewhat limited Larsson this season, with the Allsvenskan campaign 14 games old, but even running at less than 100 per cent he packs a punch. "Playing 'Henke' is always difficult," IFK Göteborg's Danish custodian Kim Christensen told uefa.com. "He's very smart and experienced. That makes it impossible to prepare for a match against him. He is extremely important for Helsingborg."
Örebro SK keeper John Alvbåge has observed Larsson up close many times in training with the Sweden national side, and is full of praise. "I've seen on those occasions how professional 'Henke' is," he said to uefa.com. "He is always focused and 100 per cent committed in training. Even then he performs at the highest level."
Asked what marks out the Helsingborg-born Larsson as such a consistent threat, Petter Wastå – the No1 for Swedish titleholders Kalmar FF – added: "It's his intelligence on the pitch. He is constantly in motion, which makes him difficult to mark. He also makes his team-mates better when he's playing."
And for how much longer can the 105-cap international go on tormenting keepers? "As long as he makes Helsingborg a better team, which he should be able to do for another two or three years at least," concluded Wastå. Alvbåge believes Larsson is striving for one unfulfilled goal: "I think he wants to be a Swedish champion with Helsingborg. Physically, he looks like he's in his 20s, so his body can go on for a long time."