Alan Smith reflects on another succcessful Stuart Pearce gamble and says England will subdue hosts Sweden.
Last Updated: 24/06/09 1:41pm
It has to be an encouraging sign ahead of the semi-finals that England's so-called second team competed so well against Germany on Monday.
A lot of us were surprised when we saw the team sheet in Halmstad - I thought Stuart Pearce might go half-and-half on his selection but I didn't expect him to make 10 changes.
It was a gamble, but we're becoming used to Stuart gambling and winning at this tournament. His decision to be bold when England were down to 10 men against Finland proved inspired, and his introduction of Theo Walcott from the bench was the key against Spain.
Another one has paid off, and Stuart is now in the enviable position of knowing that whoever he calls on from here on in will not be coming in cold.
The manager has given everyone a chance to impress, and no one took that chance against the Germans as hungrily as Jack Rodwell, who I'm happy to say lived up to my pre-match billing!
Rodwell is the youngest member of the squad, but he certainly doesn't play like a kid. His maturity has been evident since he broke into Everton's team, constantly demanding the ball in tight midfield situations.
That is no mean feat for a teenager in the Premier League and - much like Arsenal's Kieran Gibbs - he's a player you suspect would look equally at home wherever he was asked to play.
Having said that, he's up against defensive midfielders with more experience in Fabrice Muamba and Lee Cattermole, and it would be a surprise if he edged either out for a place in Friday's semi-final against Sweden.
The same goes for Andrew Driver, whose directness from out wide against Germany impressed me even if his decision-making could be criticised on occasion. A lot of English supporters wouldn't have known much about Hearts' Andrew before Monday, but they and he will have been encouraged by what they saw.
The competition for forward places is fierce, and it will be interesting to see what Stuart does against the Swedes. Adam Johnson did well on Monday and you suspect he will be competing for one of two places along with James Milner and Walcott, who has looked at his most menacing appearing from the bench.
I expect Fraizer Campbell to start in the middle with Gabriel Agbonlahor still troubled by tight calves, and to my eyes he's worth his place whether Agbonlahor is fit or not. The 4-3-3 system favoured by Stuart has worked more effectively when Campbell has been in the side.
As far as the rest of the side goes, I'm anticipating the players who started against Spain being recalled, which means Micah RIchards and Nedum Onuoha starting at centre-half.
We've looked shaky once or twice at the back, and the boys who play in there will have to make sure they get themselves sorted from the off - all the more so given they'll be up against the tournament's top scorer Marcus Berg.
Berg and Sweden will be full of confidence, and their solidity reminds me of senior Swedish sides from the past, many of whom produced their best when England were the opposition.
The people here love English football - a good number of the bumper crowds for England's final two group games were locals - and maybe that inspires the players to raise their game.
England win - I think this could be an entertaining game with a few goals, and Sweden will not be a pushover, but we are the better team and the spirit in the camp is good. This one could finish 2-1 or 3-2 in our favour.
SMUDGER'S STAR MAN
Fraizer Campbell - He's in good form, he's looking confident and he'll be a real handful. On the ability he's shown in Sweden it's easy to see why he's a man in demand at club level.