10 October 2014 02:18
Fabio Capello dismissed suggestions Russia were afforded an easier task in the absence of Sweden captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic on Thursday.
Struggling with a tendon injury, Ibrahimovic was an unused substitute as Sweden were held to a 1-1 Group G draw by Russia in Euro 2016 qualifying.
Aleksandr Kokorin opened the scoring for the visiting Russians in the 10th minute before Ola Toivonen restored parity four minutes into the second half at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.
Capello is all too familiar with Ibrahimovic and his capabilities, having coached the forward at Juventus from 2004 to 2006.
But the Italian tactician said Sweden were still a dangerous team, even without their all-time leading goalscorer, who has scored 50 times in 100 appearances.
“I know Zlatan very well, I know what he can do, the value of the player,” said Capello.
“When you have Zlatan on the pitch they can play more long balls because he can hold the ball. He is one of the three best players in the world.
“He can change the game, score and make assists. Defenders always have problems with him, he can draw yellow and red cards.
“But we are talking about one player, it wasn’t easy just because he wasn’t on the pitch. Sweden are a good team.”
The draw preserved Russia’s unbeaten start to qualifying after their opening 4-0 rout of Liechtenstein last month.
“We played really well and had a lot of chances to score. All the players performed well,” Capello added.
“The attacking players Kokorin and [Artem] Dzyuba – they played well and most importantly they were quick to help out in midfield, on the defensive side of the game.
“I am happy about the performance and the result, we had a lot of chances to score but they also had some chances.”