Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 1/1
Looking to lay down an early marker when they make the trip to Solna on Saturday night, world champions France will face off against Sweden from behind closed doors this weekend.
Starting with the hosts, only continuing to build off of their knockout stage finish out in Russia at the World Cup finals two years ago, Sweden have impressed many with what has been an eye-catching resurge. Last seen back in January when keeping the mood in their camp at a high with a 1-0 win against surprise package Kosovo on home soil, the Yellows have won their last four matchups across all competitions and managed to book their spot at next year’s backdated European Championships in impressive fashion. Last seen on qualifying duties when signing off their campaign with a deserved 3-0 romp against the Faroe Islands, Janne Andersson’s men secured a second-place finish in Group F, only finishing behind former world champions Spain. In fact, now in the midst of an eight-match unbeaten run, their most fruitful patch over the past decade, Sweden have also impressed with their rugged displays on home soil. Including grabbing what was an eye-catching point off of Spain last year, Saturday’s hosts have not lost a competitive matchup in Solna since September 2018.
While he might not have been able to help Manchester United lift the Europa League title last month, central defender Victor Lindelof has been included in Sweden’s squad.
Elsewhere, Juventus’ Dejan Kulusevski could be in to earn a second senior cap this weekend.
As for the visitors, managing to bounce back from their stunning defeat away in Turkey last year, the defending world champions secured top spot in Group H and might be a nation looking to prove a point in this summer’s tournament. However, while Les Bleus might have signed off their European qualifying campaign with back-to-back 2-1 and 2-0 victories against Moldova and Albania, Didier Deschamps’ side had struggled to find top gear prior to football’s enforced break. Managing to snatch a late point off of Turkey in Paris and landing what was a hard-fought 1-0 win against Iceland back in November, France could be calling on Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud to once again help drag them over the line out in Solna this weekend. While Deschamps might have the likes of Kylian Mbappe to call upon, the 33-year-old has recorded three goals in his last four international appearances and should lead the line as France try to end their worrying record in Sweden. Including a shock 2-1 defeat when they made the trip across Europe in 2017, the Blues have lost back-to-back trips to Solna.
After both players returned positive COVID tests earlier in the week, Paul Pogba and Tanguy Ndombele have been forced to withdraw from Saturday’s trip to Sweden.
However, despite helping PSG reach the Champions League Final last month, Kylian Mbappe has been included in the France squad.
Key Factors to Consider
- Including a shock 2-1 win when France last visited back in 2017, Sweden have won back-to-back meetings against the world champions on home soil.
- Olivier Giroud has scored three goals in his last four international appearances.
- Sweden are unbeaten in their last eight matchups across all formats, their best run over the past decade.
- Seven of France’s last nine away matchups have seen under 2.5 goals by the final whistle.
- The Swedes are unbeaten in each of their last eight home fixtures on the bounce, including winning their previous three contests on the bounce.
While on paper the defending world champions might fancy their chances of opening this year’s Nations League campaign with three points, France should be in for another tough test on foreign soil. Up against a Swedish outfit who have continued to impress since their knockout finish out in Russia two years ago, the Yellows are enjoying their longest unbeaten run over the past decade and might be quietly confident of causing an upset this weekend. Remarkably winning back-to-back contests when welcoming the Blues to Solna, we could be in for a cagey contest on Saturday night. With seven of France’s last nine away matchups have seen under 2.5 goals by the final whistle, we’re backing a similar outcome.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 1/1
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