Sweden has two concerns going into its opening European Championship game against Ukraine on Monday -- Johan Elmander’s foot and the co-host’s crowd support.
Elmander is Sweden’s only major injury worry, with the Galatasaray forward struggling to recover from a fracture in his right foot. He worked out separately on Thursday while the rest of squad held their first training session in Ukraine on the outskirts of Kiev.
Elmander is coach Erik Hamren’s top choice to start up front along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and began participating in full training on Friday.
“So far it’s looking good, and he’s very positive,” Hamren said at a news conference.
Hamren sounded more concerned about facing Ukraine in its opening game, saying the host nation is usually among the toughest teams to play in the first match. While Sweden may seem to have a stronger lineup on paper, Hamren also pointed out that the last three games between the teams have finished with a win for each side and a draw. “We know it will be even tougher on Monday because of the home support, so in my eyes they’re the favorites to win,” he said. “If you look at the statistics, it’s not often that the host nation loses its opener.”