SWEDEN striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is desperate to play against European Championship holders Greece despite a lack of match-fitness following a knee injury.
Ibrahimovic only returned at the end of Inter Milan’s season, but is set to start in Salzburg, even if he cannot last the full 90 minutes of the Group D clash.
The forward said: “I hadn’t played for a very long time prior to the last league match with Inter. I don’t know if I can play for 90 minutes, but I feel ready. We’ll see how long I last.”
The 26-year-old is expecting a physical test at Wals Siezenheim Stadium.
“The Greek defenders are physically strong,” he said. “They’re as tall and as solid as me. I’ve played against [Traianos] Dellas before — he’s a really good defender.
“It’ll be tough, with both teams starting out playing tight and cautious. After that we’ll see who gets the first goal. That will decide it all.”
Coach Lars Lagerback is confident his striker will be ready to face the Greeks. “He’s completed the majority of the training sessions. We’ll start with Zlatan. He’s the kind of player who doesn’t lose his ability just because he’s been away for a while. He also has great genes physically — he has a lot to thank his parents for.”
Greece have been given little chance to defend the title they unexpectedly won four years ago when Angelos Charisteas scored the winner against Portugal in the final.
“I am delighted to be back at this extraordinary tournament with Greece,” Charisteas said. “In 50 years time, everyone will remember that I scored the goal that made Greece champions of Europe.”
Giorgos Karagounis is fit for Greece following a knee injury.
He said: “When such a tournament is approaching, something for which you have been waiting for so long, it’s not that pleasant to have to deal with an injury.”
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