Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Prediction: Republic of Ireland vs Sweden

Verdict: Away win

Best Odds: 29/20

Bookmaker: William Hill

Republic of Ireland will face in-form Sweden side on their second successive European Championship appearance, and the Irish know this is their best chance of recording a win in Group E. Meanwhile, Blagult are buoyed by the 3-0 triumph over Wales in the dress rehearsal and they will be hoping to make the premiere just as successful.

Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland have shown signs of promise in the past couple of decades, and, oddly enough, they made it to the Euro play-offs in four of last six qualifying campaigns. And while they lost to Netherlands and Turkey at the first two attempts, victories over Estonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina saw the Irish secure their place at the 2012 and 2016 tournaments. The Green Army were far from impressive in Ukraine and Poland, losing all three group games, so no doubts they will be looking to show improvement in France. But, with Belgium, Italy and Sweden the other three sides in Group E, Martin O’Neill’s charges clearly face an uphill task. The Irish did fairly well to match sides like Germany, Poland and Scotland in the qualifying campaign, but they have experienced plenty of problems since. Key men Shay Given, Aiden McGeady, John O’Shea, James McCarthy and Jonathan Walters have either struggled for playing time or battling an injury, and it is clear that the tournament finals come at a very bad time for Republic of Ireland. As witnessed by the disappointing home loss to minnows Belarus, The Green Army do not seem prepared for what awaits them in France, and we don’t think they can match the in-form Sweden in their opening fixture.

Team News

Marc Wilson and Harry Arter missed out on the Republic of Ireland Euro 2016 squad through injury, whereas Kevin Doyle, Darron Gibson and Paul McShane were overlooked.

There have been finally some good news for the manager as Jonathan Walters, Robbie Brady and Robbie Keane resumed full training, but the Norwich City star is the only one of those expected to start.

Sweden

Sweden have done better at major competitions than their next opponents, especially since the turn of the century, but it would appear as though they were unable to realise their full potential. And even though the current crop of players needed the play-offs to reach the tournament in France, we believe that they’ve got an excellent chance to enjoy a successful Euro 2016. Granted, Blagult have been placed in a strong group alongside Italy, Belgium and Ireland, but judging by their recent performances, they have no reason to fear any side in Group E. Even if their results have not always been top-notch, the team have performed really well under Erik Hamren, the coach who has found a perfect role for superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is given freedom to do his magic on the pitch, but is also completely dedicated to the team’s cause. With Benfica starlet Victor Lindelof drafted into the side, Sweden are again strong at the back, as their two banks of four are difficult to break, while the wing partnership of Emil Forsberg and Jimmy Durmaz is another strength they will be looking to take advantage of. The 3-0 hammering of Wales is enough to suggest Blagult are fully prepared for the tournament finals, so we definitely expect them to start with a win.

Team News

Highly rated defenders Oscar Wendt and Jonas Olsson were again overlooked, with Sunderland forward Ola Toivonen another high profile player missing out.

There have been no fresh injury worries after Martin Olsson, Kim Kallstrom and Oscar Lewicki recovered from minor knocks.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Sweden won four of eight matches vs Rep of Ireland (D2 L2)
  • Both teams scored in one of last five meetings
  • Sweden recorded 3-0 win over Wales in the final warm-up game
  • Ireland lost to Belarus last time out
  • The Irish have a number of key men struggling for form or fitness

Conclusion

Republic of Ireland are going through a rough patch at the moment, which is hardly surprising when we know that only a handful of first team regulars arrive in France in good shape. Sweden, on the other hand, are brimming with confidence after the hammering of Wales and they’ve got more than enough quality to win this match.

Verdict: Away win

Best Odds: 29/20

Bookmaker: William Hill

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