Thursday, March 30, 2017

Prediction: Sweden vs Wales

Verdict: Home win

Best Odds: 1/1

Bookmaker: bet365

After extending their winless run to three games as they failed to beat Slovenia on Monday, Sweden will be eager to win their final Euro 2016 warm-up fixture when they host Wales at Friends Arena in Solna. The Dragons, on the other hand, focused on getting their key footballers fit for the Euro 2016 finals, and they will miss a couple of those in Sunday’s game.

Sweden

Sweden haven’t exactly impressed at major competitions in recent years, although they have now ensured their fifth successive appearance at the European Championship finals. But, having progressed past the group stage on just one in the previous four attempts, Blagult will want to show some improvement in France. Erik Hamren’s side did well to reach the tournament finals by defeating neighbours Denmark in the play-offs, and they have since placed in a difficult group that also contains Belgium, Italy and Republic of Ireland. But, having shown a great deal of promise of late, Sweden have every right to hope for a successful tournament. Blagult did not exactly impress in first warm-up games, losing to Turkey and sharing spoils with Czech Republic and Slovenia, but there is an obvious reason for under-par results. The fact that PSG superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed two of those games certainly played a part, with the 34-year-old having scored 11 of Sweden’s 19 goals in the qualifying campaign. The veteran striker will be in contention for the Wales game and there are no doubts that his presence will be a huge boost for the squad.

Team News

The PSG striker is likely to be partnered by Marcus Berg up front as Sweden are expected to line up in a traditional 4-4-2 formation.

Another good news is that Kim Kallstrom, Oscar Lewicki and Martin Olsson all trained after recovering from injury, meaning that Erik Hamren has fully fit squad to select from.

Wales

Having qualified for the first major competition since 1958 and first ever European Championship, the current Wales team have definitely secured their place in the history books, but Chris Coleman and his men are determined they are not going to France only to make up the numbers. The atmosphere in the team camp has been quite impressive despite the fact that several key men continue to struggle through injury, but the entire nation breathed a sigh of relief as superstar Gareth Bale came through the Champions League final unscathed, while playing a key role in helping Real Madrid lift yet another coveted title. Another key men Joe Ledley has recovered incredibly quickly from a fractured fibula and he has already been working with the ball. And having seen England struggle in their friendly against Portugal, the Dragons now believe they can progress from what is a difficult Euro 2016 group, with the Sweden game set to act as the final test for the opener against Slovakia. Wales lost to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Ukraine on their last two trips, but they had won three of the previous four games on the road.

Team News

Gareth Bale is back in contention after playing in the Champions League final, but Joe Ledley is still a couple of weeks off from returning into action.

Joe Allen and Hal Robson-Kanu are out injured as well, while Emyr Huws and Wes Burns remain in the squad as reserves despite not being on the final list.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Wales failed to score in either of two meetings with Sweden (D1 L1)
  • Only one goal was scored in total in those two games
  • Just six goals were scored in Wales’ last five away fixtures
  • Sweden’s last three home games ended in draw
  • Ibrahimovic scored 11 goals in Euro 2016 Qualifying

Conclusion

With Zlatan Ibrahimovic back to the side and no injury problems whatsoever, Sweden look a good bet to return to winning ways ahead of the Euro 2016 finals. Wales, on the other hand, will be missing three important players, while Gareth Bale is unlikely to be at his best following the Champions League title celebrations.

Verdict: Home win

Best Odds: 1/1

Bookmaker: bet365

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