Sunday, August 1, 2021

Prediction: Sweden vs Ukraine

Verdict: Sweden win

Best odds: 7/5

Bookmaker: Unibet

The round of 16 at the European Championship is approaching its final day, with a blockbuster clash between England and Germany coming in the afternoon and the match between Sweden and Ukraine at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland, to wrap it up in the evening.

Sweden

The Swedes pulled a bit of a surprise in the first stage by finishing top of Group E with seven points. They played a goalless draw against Spain, before beating Slovakia by 1-0, courtesy of a goal by Emil Forsberg from the spot in the 77th minute. In the final round, they won a thriller against Poland as a Robert Lewandowski brace cancelled out that of Forsberg, before Victor Claesson secured the triumph in the fourth minute of the stoppage time.

If there’s one thing Sweden have proven, it’s that they can’t be written off against anyone in advance, and that they can do what it takes to get a result with a never-give-up attitude. This is the first time since 2004 that they’ve managed to earn a place in the knockout stages of a European Championship.

Team News

Juventus winger Dejan Kulusevski came on off the bench against Poland and delivered two assists, and he has arguably done enough to warrant a start in this match, but coach Janne Andersson could name Forsberg and veteran Sebastian Larsson on the flanks again as well.

Manchester United centre-back Victor Lindelof is set to pair up with Marcus Danielson in the heart of defence, with the duo of Kristoffer Olsson and Albin Ekdal holding the middle of the park.

Ukraine

It was much more difficult for Andriy Shevchenko’s team in the group stages. They lost the opener to Netherlands by 3-2, and Christoph Baumgartner’s strike saw them lose the last match 1-0, to Austria. However, the 2-1 win over North Macedonia, which the goal from Leeds United’s Ezgjan Alioski failed to prevent due to West Ham’s Andriy Yarmolenko and Roman Yaremchuk of Gent hitting the back of the net in the first half, proved enough to see them go through.

Incidentally, Sweden’s win over Poland helped them too.

Ukraine aren’t, of course, considered among the favourites in this tournament, but they will have been happy with avoiding the biggest teams in the round of 16, with all due respect to Sweden.

Team News

Shevchenko has a problem on the left attacking flank, with Viktor Tsyhankov and Oleksandr Zubkov both doubtful with calf injuries. He could put midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi there, he has done it before, but he will be hoping that at least one of his designated left wingers will be ready to start so Malinovskyi can go back to his original role.

Mykola Sharapenko would, in that case, start on the bench, and the back four should remain the same as in the previous matches, with 18-year-old Illia Zabarnyi keeping his place.

Conclusion

All the signs point to a physically demanding contest, with plenty of tactical discipline on show from both sides. Sweden are, however, the favourites to go through, arguably boasting more quality in their ranks.

Verdict: Sweden win

Best odds: 7/5

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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