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   24 May, 2002 | 1345 IST


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Ljungberg is Sweden's trump card

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Henrik Larsson is one of the most feared strikers in the world but Freddie Ljungberg is Sweden's "jewel in the crown".

That's the view of Stuart Baxter, the British born coach who has spent the last year compiling a comprehensive dossier on the Scandinavians for England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson before the two side's meet at the World Cup finals on June 2.

Baxter knows a thing or two about Swedish football -- he was coach at Halmstad between 1989 and 1991, then led AIK Stockholm to the Swedish league title and Champions League qualification during his first season in charge in 1998.

"Ljungberg is someone England have to address, whether he plays well or doesn't play well is a massive part of their game plan," said Baxter, now a national coach in the English FA set up.

"I think we are well prepared for Sweden as a team but I think we know that Freddie is the jewel in their crown."

Ljungberg, the attacking 25-year-old with the trademark red splash through his tousled hair, is enjoying the form of his life.


He rattled up 17 goals for English double winners Arsenal this season -- a remarkable tally for a midfielder -- and form which has led to newspapers reporting he is being chased by Italian clubs for up to 20 million pounds ($29.09 million).

"We can take heart from the fact that the way Freddie has been playing for Arsenal, the Swedes have been trying harder and harder to work that identical role into their way of playing," added Baxter.

"We know exactly what is coming from him, we know his patterns of movement and the timing of his movement."

Baxter believes Ljungberg will play wide on the left for Sweden, a position he utilised to devastating effect for Arsenal in the latter part of the season when Frenchman Robert Pires was injured.

"Sweden will try and get Freddie in contact with their two frontmen.

"But I don't think you can address him as a one-off, it has to be taken into account in the general pattern of play that we want the game to follow.

"If we play the way we want to play, the side-effect of that is that Freddie would not get into the game as much as he would hope, or he will get the ball in areas where he won't affect us too much."

Ljungberg, who had a training ground bust-up with team mate Olof Mellberg on Thursday, has been capped 31 times by Sweden but has yet to replicate his club form -- having scored just twice in the yellow shirt of his national side.

But England will underestimate him at their peril.

"He is more effective for Arsenal than he is for Sweden, but he's so on fire at the moment that I'm sure he believes he is going to have a fabulous World Cup. We have to respect that confidence."

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