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Sweden and Slovakia face off on Friday with Group E balanced delicately after one round of fixtures at Euro 2020.
Slovakia got off to the perfect start with a surprise 2-1 win over Poland, and currently sit top of the group after Sweden drew their opener with Spain.
That draw could prove extremely valuable for the Swedes given they have likely faced their toughest test in the group now, and will fancy their chances of qualifying for the knockouts.
With Poland and Spain facing off in the other fixture, this game represents a superb chance for Slovakia to all but seal a place in the last-16 - or for Sweden to steal a march and go top of the group with a win.
Date, kick-off time and venue
|Photo: Evening Standard|
Sweden vs Slovakia is scheduled for a 2pm BST kick-off on Friday, June 18, 2021.
The match will be held at the Gazprom Arena in St Petersburg, Russia.
Sweden vs Slovakia: Team news
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
Goalkeepers: Martin Dubravka, Marek Rodak, Dusan Kuciak
Defenders: Peter Pekarik, Lubomir Satka, Denis Vavro, Milan Skriniar, Tomas Hubocan, Jakub Holubek
Midfielders: Marek Hamsik, Stanislav Lobotka, Patrik Hrosovsky, Juraj Kucka, Ondrej Duda, Robert Mak, Vladimir Weiss, Laszlo Benes, Lukas Haraslin, Tomas Suslov, Matus Bero, Erik Jirka
Forwards: Michal Duris, Robert Bozenik, David Strelec
Sweden vs Slovakia: Match preview
|Photo: Getty Images|
Benefiting from a disciplined defensive effort in holding Spain to a goalless draw in their first fixture, Sweden come into their second full of confidence and in a strong position to qualify.
With Victor Lindelof receiving the award as UEFA's man of the match in Seville, Janne Andersson's side were mostly on the back foot, but also offered a threat at the other end, as Real Sociedad forward Alexander Isak hit the post and then later found Marcus Berg, who spurned a fine chance to snatch all three points.
Incidentally, Isak's goal in a friendly against the Swedes' next opponents Slovakia - back in 2017, aged just 17 - made him the youngest ever player to score a senior international goal for the Nordic nation. Now, in the absence of their 39-year-old talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it is likely to be the young striker's responsibility to break down the Slovakian defence on Friday.
After battling gamely for a point won almost under siege, possession is likely to be more even between two well-matched sides at the Krestovsky Stadium and - with the Blagult having won five of their last six matches - head coach Andersson will expect to put one foot in the final stages by turning over a team to whom Sweden have never lost before.
In fact, they have met Slovakia on five previous occasions altogether - winning twice - while the other three (including the two most recent meetings) ended in draws.
Slovakia continue their residency in Russia's cultural capital for this second Group E game, after a 2-1 victory over 10-man Poland in their tournament opener last week.
Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar's beautifully controlled 20-yard shot on the turn secured a famous win for the Falcons, as they pursue a repeat of their progress to the last 16 in France five years ago.
Following that successful debut as an independent nation, a squad which had experienced managerial upheaval and underwhelming form in recent times looked unlikely to emerge from a challenging section this time around.
Sweden vs Slovakia: Predictions
Sweden head into this tie following an outstanding display against Spain and will be looking to build on that performance. They will be significantly boosted by the return of Juve's Kulusevski and we expect them to take a more attacking approach into the game.
Looking at their record against the visitors, we are tipping the Swedes to claim all three points on Friday.
Prediction: Sweden 1-1 Slovakia
Sweden vs Slovakia: Betting tips and odds
Sweden to Win
Sweden have never lost against Slovakia before, with the pair meeting on six previous occasions. During that period, Sweden have claimed three wins and three draws against Slovakia and have only conceded two goals. Sweden have won five of their last six international matches, while Slovakia have only won two of their last six games.
Under 2.5 Goals
Under 2.5 goals have been produced in four of the last five encounters between these two countries and we're expecting another close and competitive 90-minutes between the pair this Friday. Four of Sweden's last six matches have produced under 2.5 goals, including the 0-0 draw with Spain, while three of Slovakia's last six outings have also seen fewer than three goals scored.
1-0 to Sweden
Sweden were a little lucky to get a draw against Spain in what was a very conservative display by the Scandinavians but they did have a couple of big chances to score and could have pinched all 3pts. Slovakia were helped out by Poland having a man sent-off and we expect Sweden to nullify their attacks on Friday and believe the Swedes will pinch a goal to win the game.
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