Euro Betting: Spain vs Sweden, 14 June
Group Stage | Group E | Seville
Three-time Euro winners Spain host Sweden for their opening game, in a group completed by Poland and Slovakia. Both teams are more than familiar with each other, after also being in the same Euro 2020 qualifying group.
Spain had a typically efficient qualifying campaign, finishing unbeaten and top of their group, and incidentally, enjoyed more shots, more possession, and more pass completions than another team from the whole qualifying campaign. Ominous.
Sweden also enjoyed a successful campaign, finishing second to Spain, and who’s only defeat was to the Spanish themselves, a 3-0 loss at the Bernabeu. However, they can take pride in the fact that they achieved a draw against them back in Sweden, with only an injury time equaliser stopping them from taking all 3-points.
Coming into this tournament, Sweden look in great form, having won their last five games. Spain meanwhile, have been in middling form and this will be the first time ever that they have had a squad without a single Real Madrid player! More on that now…
Squads & Line-ups
Yes, the big Spanish squad talking point is the fact they have not chosen a single eligible Real Madrid player. Historically, the national team has often been made up of the biggest talents from Spain’s two biggest clubs. This year, it’s Barcelona players and a talented host of leading players from other European clubs that will be aiming to emulate recent successes.
The Barcelona contingent they do have is strong; Pedri, Jordi Alba, and Sergio Busquets providing a good blend of defensive class and creative flair. As for the other players, the list reads like a who’s-who of the best European player at the biggest European clubs.
Cesar Azpilicueta will be fresh from captaining Chelsea to their recent Champions League success, Atletico Madrid’s Koke was key in their superb La Liga title win, Man City’s Rodri, Ferran Torres and Aymeric Laporte have all had great seasons at Man City, and of course there’s Thiago Alcantara, Liverpool’s classy, elegant playmaker who has been a prolific winner everywhere he’s played.
For Sweden, as always, it seems to be the cohesion of the unit, rather than the brilliance of the individual. As we know, the ever-perennial Zlatan Ibrahimovic misses the tournament through injury, but there are high hopes for 21-year-old forward Alexander Isak, who scored 17 goals for Real Sociedad this season. The Spanish will certainly be aware of him!
On top of that, the Swedes do have seasoned internationals like Seb Larsson to turn to, as well as a number of industrious players who play across Europe.
As we know, the two sides have recent history with their qualifying campaigns, and although Spain won one convincingly 3-0, the return leg was far more competitive, with Sweden only missing out on victory thanks to a very late injury time equaliser.
Altogether, Sweden have only beaten Spain 3 times, and only once in Spain, in a 3-1 friendly in 1988. In the three subsequent games in Spain, they’ve conceded 10 goals, not scored, and lost. They will be hoping to break this pattern in Seville.
Both nations also met during Euro 2008 qualifying, with Sergio Ramos scoring in a 3-0 victory. Sweden did win the first tie 2-0 on home soil. This remains their only victory in the last seven matches against the Spaniards.
Alongside Germany, Spain are the most successful team at the Euros, winning three titles, including two of the last three tournaments. It really has been the ‘Spain Euros era!’
Their victorious 2008 campaign included group stage victory over Sweden, with David Villa SCORING a 92ND minute winner that took them to the quarter-finals.
This will be Sweden’s sixth successive Euro finals, but they have not gone past the Euro group stage since 2004, when they had the mercurial talents of Henrik Larsson to depend on and they reached the quarter-finals.
Will Spain continue their Euro love-affair? Or will Sweden step out the shadow of Zlatan?