Ex-Red’s warning for England
Former Red Jesper Blomqvist expects Wednesday night’s friendly between Sweden and England to pack added punch given the circumstances surrounding the match.
The England squad, which includes United stars Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Ashley Young, will be the first side to play Sweden at the new national stadium, Friends Arena (kick-off 19:30 GMT).
“The Swedish team will be really keen to make sure they open the stadium with a win,” Blomqvist told ManUtd.com. “I think that motivation will lift the Swedish players and they’ll want to be part of making history, making sure they get off to a good start.
“It’s a fantastic arena, there will be a great atmosphere and I’m looking forward to it. I think the England players will feel privileged to be involved in the occasion.”
Although it’s a big night for Swedish football, Blomqvist isn’t expecting a full-blooded, high-intensity affair.
“People need to be realistic,” he said. “These friendly games are called friendlies for a reason.
“I watched United against Barcelona in pre-season in Gothenburg and I think some people’s expectations were far too high. The reality is that there’s not the same amount of tension when there are no points up for grabs.
“Hopefully people can just enjoy the game and appreciate the spectacle.”
England manager Roy Hodgson has strong links with Swedish football, having spent the majority of the 1980s coaching in the Allsvenskan (Swedish top flight). He had spells with IK Oddevold and Orebro before winning five consecutive titles with Malmo.
“Roy may as well be half Swede!” Blomqvist joked. “That’s how we look at him. It’s great to have him back.”
Blomqvist, who played a key role in United’s Treble-winning season of 1998/99, is hoping to see Danny Welbeck lead the line in Stockholm… especially since the young striker’s chances at United have been limited of late.
“It must be tough for Danny,” he said. “He was doing so well last season, both for United and England, and then he comes back this season and finds himself down the pecking order.
“It’s not through any fault of his own, though. Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez have been fantastic lately, so you can’t argue that they keep playing. But I’m glad Danny is still getting picked for England and I hope to see him against Sweden.”