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Friday, 26 April, 2002, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
Freddie's red for danger
Ljungberg's putting his shirt on a Sweden triumph

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Freddie Ljungberg's trademark hairstyle signals red for danger to England's World Cup ambitions in Korea and Japan.

Arsenal's free-scoring Sweden midfield man is arguably a bigger threat than Henrik Larsson as a potential wrecker of Sven-Goran Eriksson's blueprint for success.

Ljungberg and England have got history - and ominously for England it is the colourful Highbury idol who has the happy memories of previous meetings.

Arsene Wenger stole a march in the transfer chase for Ljungberg after he confirmed his brilliance when Sweden beat England in a Euro 2000 qualifier.

It was September 1998 and Ljungberg's superb performance in a 2-1 win merely confirmed Arsenal boss Wenger's desire to have him at Highbury.

Wenger swiftly tied up a 3m deal to sign him from Halmstads - and has been rewarded hugely for his shrewd investment.

Ljungberg is the axis on which the Sweden team revolves, linking midfield and attack in the free-running role he now plays almost to perfection.

Eriksson must make plans for Ljungberg
In an age when athleticism and quick-thinking is the benchmark for any international, Ljungberg has the ticks in all the right boxes.

He is, in some respects, Sweden's answer to Paul Scholes, but if anything Ljungberg is even more energetic and bustling.

Ljungberg is the epitome of the modern attacking midfielder - industrious, creative, progressive and undoubtedly world class.

He has been the man who has ridden to Arsenal's rescue in recent weeks when their path to the title threatened to become rocky.

Ljungberg struck twice against Ipswich Town at Highbury after 68 minutes of frustration - and broke the deadlock against West Ham United in the crucial 2-0 win.

Throw in Ljungberg's crucial opener in the north London derby against Spurs at Highbury, and the extent of his influence is underlined.

Eriksson's tactical expertise will be keenly exercised on how to deal with his fellow Swede Ljungberg's elusive threat.

England's strength is midfield, but Ljungberg occupies the dangerous area between midfield and defence, a part of Eriksson's team that is yet to convince.

Ljungberg is Sweden's Paul Scholes
Ljungberg missed the friendly draw at Old Trafford earlier this season, but is confident enough to suggest England face a tough task ending their 33-year winless run against Sweden.

He said: "England will have a lot of pressure on them., We will try to win and genuinely believe we can get through from the toughest group."

Sweden are dangerously regarded as a team based more around perspiration than inspiration.

In Freddie Ljungberg they have a man who provides both in abundance - and he will be right at the front of Eriksson's mind when planning his strategy for the game that could shape England's World Cup destiny.

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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1

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