Wednesday 11 June 2008
Just the start for Sweden's Mellberg
Sweden's Olof Mellberg was delighted with a "well-deserved win" against Greece in Salzburg last night, but having watched some of the Spain-Russia match he knows there is still a long way to go.
The imposing defender admitted the 2-0 victory had not been pretty, as Greece frustrated the Swedes until Zlatan Ibrahimović's fantastic goal in the 67th minute. Petter Hansson wrapped up the Group D points with a somewhat less eye-catching, bundled effort five minutes later. "I thought we played really well from start to finish. We defended well and created quite a few chances, so I think it was a well-deserved win in the end," said Mellberg. "Greece also defended well. They tried to keep the ball and it was probably not the best game to watch, especially in the first half, but we did our job against a really strong side."
Before taking to the field at the Stadion Salzburg Wals-Siezenheim, the 30-year-old managed to catch some of Spain's 4-1 victory against Russia in Innsbruck, and he believes Group D will be a very difficult prospect. "I watched the first half of the Spain game and saw the goals," said Mellberg, who is leaving Aston Villa FC after seven years to join Serie A giants Juventus following UEFA EURO 2008™. "That was probably a better game to watch than ours, I imagine, and Russia looked really good as well. There were quite a few goals, so the following two matches will be quite tough."
They are likely to go into those fixtures without Christian Wilhelmsson, who injured his left thigh against Greece, while concerns also surrounded Niclas Alexandersson as he departed the stadium with strapping on his right leg. The veteran is hopeful that it is merely cramp, however, and was more focused on his side's achievement against Greece. "It was a great start for us," he said. "The opening game is so important in a tournament like this, [it's vital] not to lose it, and to win is a big bonus. Greece were surprisingly defensive. They kept the ball when it was 0-0, rolling it around at the back. We kept patient because I think they wanted us to come forward and try to find the spaces. They are quite a physical team, with tall players in the air, but I think we managed to stop them quite well."