Euro Betting: Sweden vs Slovakia, June 18
Group Stages | Group E | St Petersburg
Their Euros So Far
Sweden will be looking to build on their solid start after holding Spain to a goalless draw in their Euro 2020 opener. Yet things look even brighter for this progressive Slovakia side, after beating their bigger neighbours, Poland, in a 2-1 victory.
The Swedes had to put in a disciplined performance against Spain, conceding 85% possession to the Spanish pass-masters, but still keeping them at bay via resolute defending and goalkeeping. In fact, they perhaps could and should have scored twice via the footwork brilliance of their number 11, Alexander Isak. For their first chance of the game, he bamboozled the Spanish backline, then struck a shot that cannoned off a Spain defender on the line, followed by the post, and into the goalkeeper’s hands. For the second chance, Isak danced through several defenders in the Spanish box before squaring for the unmarked Marcus Berg in the six-yard area, who made a hash of the finish. If Isak can replicate his performance here for the Slovakia game, then things could go well for the Swedes.
For Slovakia, their victory over Poland extended their recent dominance over their neighbours, as well as building on their Euro tournament experience and progression, having only made their maiden bow as an independent nation back in 2016. Their performance against the Poles epitomised their energetic and battling qualities, with the opening goal all about direct running from their clever forward Robert Mak, as his ambition got him in on goal and his shot off the post and deflection of Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny was his just rewards for his direct approach.
The fact the game was then won by their defender and captain Milan Skriniar spoke volumes, as not only did he keep Robert Lewandowski quiet all game, but his leadership saw the Slovaks resume the lead and hold on for an enormous victory. They will be hoping their bold approach can bring further rewards against the Swedes.
Sweden have never lost to Slovakia. Of the five occasions, Sweden have won two, with the remainder ending in draws.
However, in 2017, Slovakia were 3-0 winners against Sweden in the U21 European Championships, with a number of these players now part of the senior Euro 2020 squad.
Their last meeting was a 1-1 friendly draw in Sweden, with Slovakia needing a late equaliser in the first match of current manager, Stefan Tarkovic’s reign. Prior to that, there was also an emphatic 6-0 Sweden victory, in an Abu Dhabi game that was classed as an ‘unofficial international.’ Alexander Isak and Sebastian Andersson were both scorers that day too.
This will be just the third competitive game between the two sides, since a 2-0 Sweden win 2002 World Cup qualifying game. A Marcus Allback double secured the victory for the Scandinavian side.
These aside, the only other times they have met was when Slovakia was part of Czechoslovakia, for four Euro qualifying matches. Holders Czechoslovakia won 3-1 in Solna and 4-1 in Prague in the preliminaries for the 1980 tournament, going on to reach the finals in Italy; in qualifying for the 1984 competition, Czechoslovakia let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Sweden in Bratislava and then went down 1-0 in Solna, both teams being eliminated after finishing behind Romania.
The latest fixture feels very different to historical games between the sides, even over the past few years, with Slovakia making evident progress to be part of the established European football nations, just like Sweden.
So, will Sweden build on their Spanish success? Or will Slovakia’s footballing rise continue?