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Spain are facing a potential Covid-19 outbreak as they prepare for their Euro 2020 opening game against Sweden on Monday.
Spain have increased the size of their “parallel training bubble” to 17 players after Diego Llorente became the second man in their main squad to test positive for Covid-19.
Captain Sergio Busquets also tested positive on Sunday, forcing the country’s 24-man Euros squad into isolation. Leeds defender Llorente’s positive test was confirmed on Tuesday night and, like the rest of the squad, he will now work to an individual training schedule.
With Luis Enrique’s side up against it, Sweden may sense an opportunity to strike and get off to a winning start - but they themselves have had two positive Covid-19 results in Juventus winger Dejan Kulusevski and Bologna midfielder Mattias Svanberg.
Date, kick-off time and venue
|Photo: The Telegraph UK|
Spain vs Sweden is scheduled for an 8pm BST kick-off on Monday, June 14, 2021.
The match will be held at Estadio La Cartuja in Seville, Spain.
Spain vs Sweden: Team News
It remains to be seen whether Spain and Sweden will call up replacement for the four players who have returned positive Covid-19 test results, but they will surely miss this game regardless.
|Photo: Getty Images|
Goalkeepers: David de Gea, Robert Sanchez, Unai Simon
Defenders: Aymeric Laporte, Jose Gaya, Jordi Alba, Pau Torres, Eric Garcia, Diego Llorente, Cesar Azpilicueta
Midfielders: Marcos Llorente, Sergio Busquets, Rodri, Pedri, Thiago, Koke, Fabian
Forwards: Dani Olmo, Mikel Oyarzabal, Gerard Moreno, Alvaro Morata, Ferran Torres, Adama Traore, Pablo Sarabia
Goalkeepers: Karl-Johan Johnsson, Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Robin Olsen
Defenders: Emil Krafth, Victor Lindelof, Marcus Danielson, Martin Olsson, Ludwig Augustinsson, Pontus Jansson, Filip Helander, Mikael Lustig, Andreas Granqvist
Midfielders: Emil Forsberg, Ken Sema, Viktor Claesson, Dejan Kulusevski, Sebastian Larsson, Albin Ekdal, Kristoffer Olsson, Jens-Lys Cajuste, Mattias Svanberg, Gustav Svensson
Forwards: Marcus Berg, Alexander Isak, Robin Quaison, Jordan Larsson
Spain possible starting lineup:
Simon; M Llorente, Laporte, P Torres, Alba; Thiago, Rodri, Koke; F Torres, Morata, G Moreno
Sweden possible starting lineup:
Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Danielson, Augustinsson; S Larsson, Ekdal, Olsson, Forsberg; Isak, Berg
Spain vs Sweden: Match preview
|Photo: Getty Images|
Spain's preparations for this summer's European Championship have been far from ideal, with captain Sergio Busquets and then defender Diego Llorente testing positive for coronavirus in quick succession.
Luis Enrique's side drew 0-0 with Portugal in their first pre-tournament friendly on June 4 but were forced to field their Under-21s for the clash with Lithuania on June 8, with the first team isolating due to Busquets's positive test.
The Under-21s put in an excellent performance against Lithuania, with Hugo Guillamon, Brahim Diaz, Juan Miranda and Javi Puado on the scoresheet, and the result stretched Spain's unbeaten run in all competitions to eight matches, which has included wins in three of their last four fixtures.
La Roja have won this competition on three previous occasions, level with Germany, and will now be looking to move out alone in terms of trophies, having triumphed in 1964, 2008 and 2012.
It has been a difficult few years for Spain in international football, exiting the 2014 World Cup in the group stage, before only reaching the round of 16 in Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup; they simply cannot be written off at this level, though, and will be eyeing a perfect start to Group E on Monday night.
Sweden, as mentioned, have previous experience when it comes to advancing to the latter stages of the European Championship, making the semi-finals in 1992 and quarter-finals in 2004.
The Swedes have now been present in each of the last six tournaments, but they have been eliminated in the group stage in three successive competitions and will be determined to go further this year.
Group E is fascinating, with Poland and Slovakia joining these two teams in the group, and Sweden will be wary of suffering a poor result in their opener considering that there is no easy match in the section.
Sweden should enter the competition full of confidence, though, having won each of their last five matches, including back-to-back friendly victories over Finland and Armenia on May 29 and June 5 respectively.
Head coach Janne Andersson said that facing Spain is still "one of the toughest challenges in the world of football", but the Blue and Yellows certainly have the players capable of making Monday's fixture a very uncomfortable 90 minutes for a Spain side very much in a transitional period.
Spain vs Sweden: Predictions
• After a dominating qualification campaign that saw them win eight of ten matches without defeat, three-time European Champions Spain look a strong outfit and it would be a surprise if they weren’t to significantly improve on their EURO 2016 showing, which saw them eliminated in the Round of 16.
• Luis Enrique’s side have been beaten just once since November 2018, a run of 24 matches (including friendlies), with their most notable result a 6-0 thrashing of Germany in the UEFA Nations League, a clear indication as to the quality of this Spanish unit.
• However, Enrique’s preparations leading into their opening Group E fixture have been disrupted following the news that experienced central midfielder Sergio Busquets has tested positive for Covid-19 so he misses out, although they do have an excellent alternative in Man City’s Rodri. Defender Diego Llorente was also a concern but he has now returned to the squad and is available to play.
• Sweden finished behind Spain in their qualification group, but only lost once over the course of their ten games and head into EURO 2020 on the back of five successive victories (including friendlies).
• Despite having returned to international duty after a self-imposed four-year exile back in March with a view to playing at EURO 2020, Sweden’s all-time record goalscorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not feature at the tournament having picked up a knee injury playing for club side AC Milan, therefore the onus will fall on the likes of Alexander Isak to score the goals for Sweden in the 39-year-old’s absence.
• Like Spain, Sweden have also been hit by two Covid-19 cases within their camp as both winger Dejan Kulusevski and midfielder Mattias Svanberg tested positive for the virus and will serve a mandatory ten-day isolation period, with head coach Janne Andersson calling up six reserve players as potential cover, who will train on their own leading up to the tournament.
Spain 2-1 Sweden
Spain vs Sweden Head-To-Head
Spain have won twice as many games (6) against Sweden as they've lost (3) in their previous 14 clashes.
When the sides met in the qualifiers for this competition, La Roja secured a 3-0 victory at home. However, the Blagult held the former European champions to a 1-1 draw in the return leg.
Spain Form Guide (all competitions): D-W-W-D-W
Sweden Form Guide (all competitions): W-W-W-W-W
Spain vs Sweden betting tips
Odds are correct at the time of publication and are subject to change.
Spain’s strength in depth to tell
Spain played their under-21 side in their final warm-up match against Lithuania on Tuesday because of a coronavirus outbreak, and showed how much quality they possess by winning 4-0 in Leganes.
The three-time European champions have home advantage on Monday and have won 11 and drawn two of 13 matches in Spain since England beat them 3-2 in the Nations League in October 2018.
La Roja are also unbeaten in their last four meetings with Sweden and took four points off Janne Andersson’s side in qualifying.
Sweden have not won in Spain since 1988 but have scored in two of the four meetings and will expect to do so again on Monday, but that may be as good as it gets for them.
Tip: Spain to win and both teams to score @ 11/4 with Paddy Power
Morata the main man for Spain
Spain’s squad does not have a goalscorer in the mould of a Fernando Torres or a David Villa, but Juventus forward Alvaro Morata averages almost a goal every other game at international level.
Morata is the senior forward and will be expected to lead the line on Monday. He has enjoyed success against Sweden before, scoring in Spain’s 3-0 win in qualifying in June 2019.
The 28-year-old also notched three goals at Euro 2016, all of which came in the group stage, and he looks to be his side’s most likely goalscorer on Monday.
Tip: Alvaro Morata to score at any time @ 6/5 with Paddy Power
Thrills and spills in Seville
The Estadio de La Cartuja in Seville holds happy recent memories for Spain, who thrashed Germany 6-0 in a Uefa Nations League clash in November.
La Roja have failed to score in only one of their six previous matches at the venue and have netted in 11 of their last 12 games against Sweden.
They have beaten Sweden 3-0 in two of the past three meetings at home and it would be no surprise to see them score three again, but with concerns over Spain’s fitness we can see the visiting team scoring a consolation goal, making 3-1 a more likely outcome.
Tip: Spain to win 3-1 @ 11/1 with Paddy Power
Spain vs Sweden odds
Spain are 2/5 to win on Monday, with Sweden 7/1 to come away with the victory. A draw is priced at 10/3.
Spain @ 2/5 with Paddy Power
Draw @ 10/3 with Paddy Power
Sweden @ 7/1 with Paddy Power
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