Sweden v Slovakia: Tight tussle anticipated in Saint Petersburg

Slovakia will look to preserve their position atop of Group E when they take on Sweden in Saint Petersburg on Friday afternoon. Mark O'Haire examines the odds on offer...

Sweden frustrate Spain

A rigid and stubborn Sweden performance in Seville saw Janne Andersson's men pick up a precious 0-0 draw against Spain in their Euro 2020 opener on Monday night. The Blue-Yellow enjoyed just 15% of the ball yet defended stoutly, frustrating their hosts in a low-block, with goalkeeper Robin Olsen making a couple of smart saves to ensure a draw.

Spain's best chance came from a fluffed attempted clearance by Marcus Danielson. However, the Scandinavians enjoyed two standout opportunities of their own on the break - first Alexander Isak hit the post with a deflected effort before later teeing up Marcus Berg, who somehow managed to steer a shot from near point-blank range wide at the back post.

Nevertheless, Sweden were understandably enthused. The Blue-Yellow displayed work ethic, organisation and discipline in spades, and can now welcome back Dejan Kulusevski and Mattias Svanberg back into the fold after the pair were isolating due to positive COVID-19 tests. The former is now expected to feature prominently in Friday's fixture.

Slovakia upset the odds

Slovakia earned a surprise 2-1 success in their Euro 2020 curtain-raiser over 10-man Poland in Saint Petersburg on Monday. Victory has put the Falcons on the verge of qualification for the knockout stages and offers Stefan Tarkovic's troops some valuable margin for error in their final two Group E assignments against Sweden and pool favourites Spain.

In a first half littered with fouls and stoppages, Robert Mak gave Slovakia a deserved lead following a fine run and shot that hit the post and rebounded in off goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. The Poles equalised immediately after the interval, although the 62nd-minute dismissal of Poland midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak changed the momentum of the match.

Slovakia, and star centre-half Milan Skriniar, took full advantage seven minutes later with a fine low shot on the turn from the edge of the penalty area to secure top honours for the underdogs. A solitary point from the Falcons' final two fixtures should be enough to secure their passage to the last 16 for the second successive European Championship.

Sweden odds-on favourites

Sweden and Slovakia have crossed swords on five previous occasions, with the Scandinavians unbeaten with two wins from the five head-to-head encounters (W2-D3-L0). The duos most recent two tussles ended all-square in friendly internationals, with the duos most recent competitive contest arriving in World Cup qualifying back in June 2001.

After a poor Nations League campaign in which Sweden 1.88 lost five of their six matches against tough opposition, Janne Andersson's men have built momentum. Georgia, Kosovo, Estonia, Finland, and Armenia were all dispatched before Spain were held. You have to go back to 2017 for the Blue-Yellow's last competitive loss against a side outside of the elite.

Slovakia 5.10 had bagged just three victories across 17 internationals (W3-D9-L5), including failing to beat the likes of Malta, Cyprus and Israel, before toppling Poland in their opener. However, the Falcons have now avoided defeat in eight of their nine outings under Stefan Tarkovic (W3-D5-L1) with the contain and counter approach frustrating opponents.

Tight tussle anticipated

Second round group games at major tournaments tend to open up with goals per-game averages increasing from 2.15 in the first round to 2.43 in the middle match of the European Championship. Since the start of Euro '96, a reasonable 47% of second round group games have produced Over 2.5 Goals 2.52 with 79% seeing a minimum of two goals.

Even so, I'm not anticipating a high-scoring shootout in Saint Petersburg considering the state of play in Group E. With Slovakia content to sit back and see, coupled with Sweden's naturally cautious and pragmatic approach, goals could be at a premium. With that in mind, the 1.75 available on Sweden Double Chance and Under 2.5 Goals holds plenty of appeal.

0 nhận xét Blogger 0 Facebook

Post a Comment