World Cup news

Larsson relishing taking on team-mates

March 20, 2013
By ESPN staff

Sebastian Larsson is looking forward to coming up against a number of his Sunderland team-mates when Sweden welcome Ireland to Stockholm for Friday's World Cup qualifier.

Seb Larsson experienced relegation from the Premier League with Birmingham City
PA PhotosSeb Larsson knows Ireland represent tough opposition

The Group C game at the Friends Arena represents an important clash for both sides, with Sweden sitting second, three points behind leaders Germany, while Ireland are a point down in third.

And Larsson, who has 51 caps for Sweden, could find himself squaring up against three of his club team-mates in James McClean, Keiren Westwood and John O'Shea.

"When you come up against your team-mates you always want to win that little bit extra," Larsson told "We know it's a massive game for both teams. We both want to take charge of that second spot, and by winning this game either team could do that."

One player in particular the former Arsenal man is relishing pitting his wits against is Ireland winger James McClean.

"He's another one of those tricky players, you don't really know what to expect from him," Larsson said.

A number of Ireland's squad is made up of players who ply their trade in the Championship. Larsson, however, does not believe this will be an advantage for his side after experiencing the league during his time at Birmingham City.

"It's actually one of the hardest leagues you can play in, even if quality is sacrificed for tempo," he said.

The turf at the Friends Arena has caused a few problems of late as on Sunday the stadium was used as an ice rink, while the new pitch is only being laid this week.

Larsson, though, is not concerned about the debate as to whether the roof should be open or closed.

"Honestly? I couldn't really care less about it," he said. "For the players on the pitch it's not going to make any difference. We're going to be running around, so we'll be keeping warm anyway.

"It's more for the spectators that come to watch the game – it would be nicer for them if the roof was closed, but for me it doesn't matter."