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Prediction: Sweden vs Netherlands

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Odds: 13/10

Bookmaker: William Hill

The Netherlands begin their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign with a difficult trip to face Sweden, looking to avoid another embarrassing qualification cycle. Sweden are at the beginning of a new chapter without head coach Eric Hamren and the host of first-team players led by the most prominent of them all – Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Sweden

Only one point in three group games at the 2016 European Championship finals in France was considered a disappointing result for the Swedish national team this summer. Swedish kicked of the Euro 2016 campaign with a 1-1 draw against the Republic of Ireland, but succumbed to consecutive 1-0 defeats to Italy and Belgium to conclude their ‘group of death’ performances in an underwhelming fashion. After an early exit in the group stages of the continental competition, the nation’s all-time top scorer with 62 goals to his name, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, decided to call it quits on the national team. Manchester United striker leads the line of several key players who decided to hang up their international boots after the outing in France. What is more, the long-serving head coach Eric Hamren decided to step down from the helm after seven years in charge, leaving the relatively inexperienced Janne Andersson with a challenging task of lading the Swedish national team forward into the World Cup qualifiers.

Team News

Sweden will be without the likes of influential striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, experienced goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson, defenders Mikael Antonsson and Erik Johansson, and midfielder Kim Kallstrom, Ola Toivonen, Pontus Wernbloom and Erkan Zengin who all decided to call it a day at the international level.

John Guidetti is expected to lead the line in attack, while Oscar Hiljemark and Marcus Berg are also expected to feature.

Netherlands

With their disastrous Euro 2016 qualifying campaign seemingly behind them, the Netherlands are heading into the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers with a friendly defeat to Greece which should serve as an omen for the head coach Danny Blind. For the first time ever Greece has beaten the Netherlands, having come from behind for a 2-1 win in Eindhoven last Tuesday. It might have been a meaningless friendly but it is much more than that for the Dutch, who are looking to get back on the international stage in style. Third-place finish at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil has put certain pressure on the Dutch who have responsibility towards their supporters to live up to the reputation of once a European football force. Danny Blind is heading into the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification process with a young squad at the beginning of a new era after a turbulent summer which saw a couple of changes to the squad but to the coaching staff as well with Dick Advocaat and Ruud Gullit respectively leaving the assistant roles just days after accepting the job.

Team News

Jasper Cillessen is expected to star in goal instead of Jeroen Zoet, who started the Greece game, while Virgil van Dijk is also expected to be included.

Ron Vlaar will not take part in the game having suffered an injury in training, while the Duth side’s record goalscorer Robin van Persie is the most prominent omission from the Oranje squad.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Both sides head into the qualifiers without their all-time top scorers
  • Sweden scored in 8 of the last 9 home matches in all competitions
  • Defeat to Greece was Netherlands’ first in five matches
  • There have been over 3.5 goals scored in 4 of the last five meeting between the two sides
  • Netherlands are yet to record a competitive away win on Swedish soil

Conclusion

Poor start could have a damaging impact on both sides at the beginning of the qualifying campaign and both Sweden and Netherlands will be keen on grabbing three points that will help them kick-start the new international seasons. Meeting s between these two sides are often openly contested affairs and we expect nothing different this time.

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Odds: 13/10

Bookmaker: William Hill

Mon 5 Sep, 2016
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