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Familiarity breeds respect

Familiar foes Sweden and Spain meet at Euro 2008 on Saturday with nothing but mutual respect after locking horns in qualifying.

sports Updated: Jun 13, 2008 22:53 IST

Familiar foes Sweden and Spain meet at Euro 2008 on Saturday with nothing but mutual respect after locking horns in qualifying.

“Sweden are a very difficult side to play against,” Spain coach Luis Aragones told reporters this week. “They play at great pace on the counter-attack and have some excellent forwards. They are definitely a team to worry about.”

Opposite number Lars Lagerback expressed similar sentiments about the Spanish before the Group D game in Innsbruck.

“We know all about Spain having played them in qualifying,” he said. “They like to keep the ball and are very dangerous in attack. We will have to be patient and play our own game, like we did against Greece.”

“Spain are a quality team. If some of the players that are sitting on their bench had Swedish passports, I would certainly have them in my team.”

Spain finished two points ahead Sweden in qualification although honours were even in head-to-head meetings, the Scandinavians winning 2-0 in Solna in October 2006, but then going down 3-0 in Madrid in November last year.

The two sides notched up convincing wins in their opening matches on Tuesday, Spain crushing Russia 4-1 and Sweden beating defending champions Greece 2-0.

It means a victory for either side on Saturday would move them to within touching distance of the quarter-finals; with a place in the last eight guaranteed for the victors should Greece’s late kickoff against Russia end in a draw.

I wasn’t angry with coach: Torres Spain striker Fernando Torres has denied that he was angry with Aragones for taking him off in the team’s 4-1 win against Russia in their opening game at Euro 2008.

Torres walked past Aragones when he was replaced by Cesc Fabregas early in the second half of Tuesday’s match and did not acknowledge the coach’s outstretched hand.

“I was angry with myself and it isn’t true that I refused to shake the coach’s hand,” Torres told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser on Friday.