Euro 2012 paper review: 'A tricky game for France, a boring one for fans'
France is frustrated by England's defensive display, while Sweden prepares the gallows for Erik Hamren
French reaction to the 1-1 draw with England was cautiously positive. "Il y a de l'espoir" – There's hope" – write Aujourd'hui. "C'est déjà chaud!" – It's already hot! – shout L'Equipe.
But there was frustration with the decidedly defensive nature of England's display. "The match turned out as we expected: a tricky game for Les Bleus, and certainly a boring one for the fans," said L'Equipe. "There was tension early in the game, as Laurent Blanc's men did not know how to go about tearing down England's double defensive curtain. When they went down the flanks, all too often they lacked a presence in the penalty area. When they played down the middle, they broke their teeth on Terry, Lescott and Gerrard, who played almost as a third central defender."
On ESPN, Michael Ballack eviscerated England's tactics. "I'm really disappointed with the game," he said. "England wanted a point, they got a point, but is this the way to play football in the future? If you're parking three buses in front of the goal, that's not football. They're sitting back most of the time with 10 players ... I'm not impressed."
France, for all their disappointment, are becoming accustomed to starting big tournaments in underwhelming fashion. "As in 2006, 2008 and 2010, the France team began a major competition with a draw, this time against England," noted Le Figaro. "A disappointing result given a game in which Les Bleus were eager to regain their honour in the eyes of the world, and the English were advancing into the unknown because of the absence of many players." They go on to mention "the glaring weakness of England's team play" while questioning Blanc's decision-making after he waited until the 83rd minute before making a substitution.
In Sweden, following their 2-1 defeat to Ukraine, there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth. "Mardröm i Kiev" – Nightmare in Kiev – splashes Svenska Dagbladet. Aftonbladet, beneath a picture of Zlatan Ibrahimovic shouting at a bloke in a suit (actually former Aston Villa striker Marcus Allback, now a coach) say: "Zlatans utbrott" – Zlatan's anger. The striker, they say, had a "heated discussion" with fellow player Markus Rosenberg (whose selection in the starting line-up is widely questioned) at half-time, and then "took out his anger" on Allback at the end of the night, having apparently been enraged not just by his team-mate's useless footballing skills but also by the way they were waving to their wives after the game.
Clearly it was not a good evening for the Swedes, and Aftonbladet's top football writer Simon Bank unloads both barrels in an article labelled: "Korkat, Hamren" – Stupid, Hamren. He says Sweden lost "because they were not brave, because the players did not play as well as they can, because the attitude wasn't there. But if the most important thing in football was courage, belief and attitude, then America would win the World Cup every four years. If an inflated chest is key then Sweden would had won this before kick-off when Olof Mellberg screamed the national anthem as if he had eaten up Gennaro Gattuso. But it's not that simple.". "Ukraine had its lightning-fast counter-attacks, its clever passing game and the shimmering Anatoliy Tymoshchuk (they spell it Tymosjtjuk, which seems to me to have at least two Js too many) in the playmaker role, and slipped into an aggressive 3-3-4 formation as soon as they won the ball. We had Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and nothing else."
In Expressen, Mats Olsson picked over "one of the all-time great collapses". "We have painted ourselves into a corner that is narrower than Hamren's technical area – the question is how to get out," he says. "We need a miracle to get out of the group. We face England on Friday, and meet France on Tuesday; if we perform as listlessly and are as little organisation as we did against Ukraine yesterday, we have no chance. We have so little chance it's untrue."
It must be said that Google's translation services struggle with Ukrainian. Unian, though, describe a team "meeting with incredible emotions" while Oleh Blokhin accused his time of playing "illiterately" towards the end of the game.