Friendly faces greet Hodgson 'homecoming' as 'big-draw' England prepare for Sweden
23:28 GMT, 13 November 2012
In the sports section of Sweden's Expressen newspaper on Tuesday, Watford were tipped to beat Wolves at Vicarage Road on Saturday.
Expressen also reckon Blackpool will win at Bristol City and, more boldly, Chelsea will leave West Bromwich with three points.
As for Sverige-England tonight, that's marked down for a draw.
Honour: England have been invited by Sweden to open their newly-built Friends Arena
The league tables of all four English divisions were printed. It was a reminder of the pull English football has in Scandinavia and, in part, is an explanation why, when Sweden planned to open their 240million Friends Arena – Friends being a charity of Swedbank – they chose to invite England.
The 'motherland of football', as Sepp Blatter calls England, may not be conscious of it on a daily basis, but England are still a big draw on the world stage.
Sweden's previous national stadium in Stockholm, Rasunda, has been closed by Brazil. Sweden share a bond with Brazil since the 1958 World Cup final held here. It is a compliment to England that they have been asked to open this stadium.
All smiles: Hodgson spoke of the great honour of his England side being invited to play in Sweden
It was England, in 1937, who opened the Rasunda. So it is an occasion in Stockholm and, while the customary grumbles about international friendlies have been heard, this is also Roy Hodgson's last match of his first half-year in charge and his last for three months.
Hodgson marched into the ground last night and spoke of the 'great honour' of the invitation. Lennart Johansson, the 83-year-old former head of UEFA, had come to sit in the front row to see the England manager. There was a rousing 'Hello, Len!' from Hodgson.
After the press conference Steven Gerrard pointedly made his way to shake Johansson's hand.
'Hello, Len': Hodgson greets the former head of UEFA Lennart Johansson, who came to see the England boss
Hodgson talked of the 'very interesting squad' he has brought with him, adding all were 'very keen and anxious to play in this game'.
He was clearly enthused about being here. Others are less so. The fixture might have created more of a tingle at home, of course, had the two countries not met in Kiev in June.
But that was the last instalment of a relationship that dates back to 1923 and tonight matters to Sweden. That in itself should make this more competitive than some friendlies.
Former Villain: Sweden No 2 Marcus
Sweden have the recent memory of their dramatic 4-4 draw in Germany – from 4-0 down. But they would like to beat England.
Because of that, Hodgson said it will be more of a test for the mix of young and old he has brought here.
Another factor that might make this differ from many friendlies is Hodgson. His manner last night was of a man coming home. Hodgson is well liked and respected here, a country he arrived in as a coach in 1976.
As Sweden manager Erik Hamren said: 'He has a good reputation here. I really like him as a coach and a person. He has been really good for Swedish football and is a big name in Sweden, acclaimed by all our coaches. There's big respect for him.'
That feeling is part of a connection that goes back to the beginning. Dig into so many European countries' football history and invariably there is a tale of an English pioneer, frequently coupled with railwaymen.
It was the same here, though the pioneer came later. George Raynor was never properly recognised or utilised in England, but he managed Sweden to the 1948 Olympic title, in London, as well as to the 1958 World Cup when they lost the final to a 17-year-old Pele.
It was a long time before England would allow a foreign manager but when it happened, in 2001, he came from Sweden: Sven Goran Eriksson.
The invention of the Premier League and the Bosman ruling have also meant a flow of Swedes to England. Marcus Allback, Hamren's assistant, played for Aston Villa.
Rather more memorably, so too did Olof Mellberg. There was Freddie Ljungberg at Arsenal, Anders Limpar before him and fleetingly Henrik Larsson at Manchester United post-Celtic.
With so much fuss over Wilfried Zaha's call-up and with Crystal Palace being Hodgson's first club as an aspiring player, there is also Tomas Brolin's short spell at Selhurst Park to remember.
Maybe after tonight, Wilf can expand on that.