Swedes prepare in luxury for hard road ahead

Having had their landing delayed by thunder and lightning on Wednesday, the Swedish Euro 2012 squad are finally settling in to their isolated luxury base on the outskirts of Kiev.

Erik Hamren's team trained on Thursday before inviting the media to visit their plush hotel, where they are preparing to face Ukraine, England and France in Group D.

"“It's been a long road here, but now we're finally getting down to business," team vice-captain Anders Svensson told Reuters, adding that he would be reading "everything but the sports pages" to pass the time.

Asked if he would he be tempted to read up on England, where he played for Southampton in the Premier League, the 126-cap midfielder smiled. “

"Of course not. Why would I do that?"

Amid tennis courts and swimming pools, imported Swedish coffee and a raft of computer games, there is no shortage of entertainment for the Swedes.

There is every feature one could expect from a top-class modern hotel and having booked every room in the complex, the Swedes have it all to themselves.

BOWLING PINS

Hamren's side will remain here for the duration of the group, with all their games being played at Kiev's Olympic Stadium, starting against the hosts on June 11.

"“I'm delighted that all our games are here," defender Jonas Olsson told Reuters, looking away to the tennis courts where the loud whoops of his team mates indicated a game was underway.

“"If you can avoid any pointless travelling during a tournament, it's much better. England will have to fly in here, and I wouldn't like to be in their place."

Olsson looks like he may start the tournament on the bench as Hamren goes with Olof Mellberg and Andreas Granqvist as his central pairing.

But the defender, who plays for West Bromwich Albion in England's Premier League, said he would be happy to give his team-mates some tips on how to handle the likes of Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll.

“"Obviously, having played against the English forwards during the season, I can share a few of their strengths and weaknesses," he said.

England will fly in from their base in Poland for the June 15 game with the Swedes, who then round off the group stage against France.

As reporters left the Swedish players to their relaxation, the sound of bowling pins falling and table tennis balls bouncing could be heard through the open doors of the complex.

But behind the relaxed demeanour, the Swedes are getting serious.

Or, as Svensson put it: "“Now is the time - we're ready."


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