As far as drama goes, the England-Sweden game was highly entertaining—in the way a fight between tottering drunks might be entertaining. Much of it looked like a Premiership relegation battle, complete with bad defending, bad passing, unnecessary fouling, etc., all performed with great devotion and in despir. The previously dampened ambition of the English is now nearly fully restored, as it turned out, to everyone’s great surprise, that they could attack, score and even win, if they only tried. Suddenly golden-hued projections are brightening up the previously grim picture. Walcott and Welbeck and Carroll are the future and the English spirit never dies and, maybe, they can go the way of Denmark 1992 or Greece 2004. But they have to get past Ukraine, and even if they did, they are likely to run into Spain and one shudders to think of the hiding that would take place in that match.
The other thing in the England-Sweden match was the way that Ibrahimovic played. He is clearly very clever and has a number of ideas running through his head whenever he has the ball. But he has this arrogant manner that would drive me crazy if I played with him or, even against him. A number of times, he’d get the ball and then consider, slowly, the possibilities and his inclination would be to choose the solution that would make him look best—a cheeky slow pass, a sudden shot at the goal. A number of times one had a sense that he would not pass to his teammates in better positions because he didn’t believe that they could do better than him, well-positioned though they may be. He is, true, far better than anyone on his team, but you could tell that he believed that and that he distributed the ball according to his own internal rankings. He played with contempt for his teammates.