ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Sweden came in for plenty of criticism for their defensive tactics in their scoreless draw with Spain, but captain Sebastian Larsson is not bothered as they prepare to face Slovakia in their next Euro 2020 Group E game on Friday.
The Swedes smothered the Spaniards and took off striker Alexander Isak midway through the second half as they orchestrated a shut-out they believe sets them up to reach the knockout stages.
"We are very secure in ourselves ... people will always have opinions, criticism or not, somewhere our basic feeling is that we took a point from Spain away in our Euro opener, which as a result is good for us and gives us opportunities," Larsson told reporters on Thursday.
A repeat of their park-the-bus tactics is unlikely against Slovakia.
"They (Slovakia) played in a clear way in a number of games now, our analysis is that it's not a Spain type of game that we'll meet, it'll be a different type of game," Sweden coach Janne Andersson said.
"We expect to have a little more ball in the build-up phase and we'll have to drive the match forward more. They sit quite deep and they are very good in their counter-attacking phase ... I believe they'll back home a bit, but you can never know for sure," he added.
Winger Dejan Kulusevski has returned to the squad following a positive COVID-19 test but may not feature against the Slovaks.
"Dejan is in a stepping-up phase and we'll see what the doctors say. He's not being considered to start, but it might possible for him to come on ... I hope and believe he'll be available, but we'll have to wait and see," Andersson said.
Sweden midfielder Matthias Svanberg is still isolating following a positive test.
Slovakia top Group E after their 2-1 win over Poland. Spain and Sweden are two points behind with the Poles bottom ahead of the second round of games.
(Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Ed Osmond)