Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Prediction: Sweden vs Serbia

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 7 Jun 2024

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Verdict: Both teams to score

Best odds: 8/13

Bookmaker: Unibet

Both aiming to rebound from midweek friendly defeats, Sweden and Serbia meet at the Friends Arena in Solna on Saturday.

The Scandinavian hosts suffered a 2-1 defeat to Denmark in their previous match, while their visitors lost by the same scoreline against fellow Euro 2024 contenders Austria.

Sweden

Reflecting on Sweden’s recent 2-1 defeat to Denmark, new head coach Jon Dahl Tomasson certainly has a few things to consider. It took just two minutes for Tomasson’s native country to take the lead through Tottenham’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, testing Sweden’s resolve early on Wednesday evening.

The Blue and Yellow showed resilience as Newcastle United’s Alexander Isak quickly leveled the score. However, a late strike from Christian Eriksen, marking his 41st goal for Denmark, secured a thrilling win for the visitors in the closing minutes.

This result continued a pattern for Sweden in 2024: alternating between victories and defeats across their initial four friendlies. Prior to facing Denmark, they had a heavy loss to Portugal but earned wins over Albania and Estonia.

Despite their occasional successes, Sweden’s overall performance in Euro 2024 qualifying was lacklustre, leading to their absence from the continental tournament for the first time since 1996.

As Tomasson begins his tenure, taking over from Janne Andersson, the focus shifts to a new phase for the national team. Sweden has enjoyed a strong home record, boasting a four-game winning streak at the Friends Arena. They now set their sights on playing in the upcoming UEFA Nations League, where they will compete in League C alongside Slovakia, Azerbaijan, and familiar adversary Estonia.

Team News

Following an injury-riddled season with Burnley, Swedish defender Hjalmar Ekdal’s misfortune continued in the Denmark game. Ekdal, who was introduced as a half-time substitute, lasted only eight minutes before being stretchered off with a hamstring injury. Both Sweden and Burnley are awaiting a full assessment of Ekdal’s condition, but he has been ruled out for the upcoming match against Serbia.

Without Ekdal, the defensive partnership between Victor Lindelof and Isak Hien is expected to remain intact. In the backline, Ludwig Augustinsson was notably absent against Denmark, forcing Napoli midfielder Jens Cajuste to adapt to a left-back role. It’s unclear if Augustinsson will return, but Cajuste may be called upon again to fill the void if necessary.

In attack, Emil Forsberg was surprisingly overlooked, allowing Niclas Eliasson to make his senior debut for the Blue and Yellow. Forsberg might return to the starting XI against Serbia, given his experience and attacking prowess, which could be crucial for Sweden’s offensive strategy.

Serbia

Unlike Sweden, Serbia will be among Europe’s 24 elite teams vying for international glory in Germany, where they will face formidable opposition in Group C, including Sweden’s recent conquerors Denmark, 2020 runners-up England, and an increasingly impressive Slovenia side.

All of Serbia’s upcoming Euros rivals secured midweek victories, but Dragan Stojkovic’s team suffered a disheartening 2-1 loss to an in-form Austria, with early goals from Patrick Wimmer and Christoph Baumgartner doing the damage before Strahinja Pavlovic netted a consolation later in the first half.

This defeat in Vienna extended a troubling period of inconsistency for Serbia, who have secured just three victories in their last 10 matches, competitive or otherwise. Nevertheless, they have managed to avoid back-to-back losses over the past year and will be looking to do so again on Saturday.

The Eagles haven’t experienced consecutive defeats since June 2022, but with attacking talents like Dusan Vlahovic, Aleksandar Mitrovic, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in their ranks, there is a growing expectation among fans for better performances.

On the other hand, Serbia had plenty of success in their 2022/23 Nations League encounters with Sweden, winning 1-0 away and delivering a 4-1 thrashing in Belgrade, where their all-time top scorer Mitrovic notched a hat-trick.

Team News

Stojkovic is all too familiar with dealing with recent injury setbacks, as Nemanja Maksimovic was forced off in the 43rd minute of the midweek defeat to Austria following a head collision with Florian Grillitsch.

It remains uncertain whether Maksimovic’s participation in Euro 2024 is at risk, but concussion protocol will certainly sideline him for the match at Friends Arena. Fortunately for Stojkovic, he has a wealth of midfield options to replace the injured player.

Sasa Lukic, Lazar Samardzic, and Ivan Ilic are all vying to take Maksimovic’s spot in the lineup, while Mitrovic may be favored over Dusan Vlahovic in attack, as Vlahovic started the previous game on Wednesday.

Conclusion

With both sides boasting potent strikers, goals are likely on Saturday. Serbia have shown resilience in rebounding from defeats over the past year, but achieving victory on Swedish turf might be a challenge.

Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side put up a strong fight against Denmark and can realistically hope to avoid defeat this time around, which would be a significant improvement over their previous Nations League encounters with this opponent.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best odds: 8/13

Bookmaker: Unibet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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