Sam WattSpain vs. Sweden, Monday June 10th, 19:45, Santiago Bernabeu. Spain host Sweden at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu in a fixture that could go a long way towards determining who takes top spot in Group F of Euro 2020 qualification.
Spain host Sweden at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu in a fixture that could go a long way towards determining who takes top spot in Group F of Euro 2020 qualification.
Sweden’s Nations League performance means they and Norway will at least be in the play-offs for Euro 2020 qualification but they’re not likely to settle for that. A guaranteed place at next year’s showpiece is the aim of every nation competing in qualification.
Spain don’t even have that to fall back on and so need to be at least in the top two of Group F to ensure their participation next year, and Luis Enrique’s side duly began with two wins from two – beating Norway and Malta, though they’d presumably liked to have scored more than two against the island minnows.
But after World Cup 2018 descended into something of a farce for La Roja, with Julen Lopetegui’s defection to Madrid on the eve of the tournament, Enrique has got the squad back on an even keel and has blooded some of the supreme young talent available.
It’s an old-stager, though, who catches the eye in the squad named for the summer internationals, as Santi Cazorla returns to the fold after a torrid time with injuries. The Villarreal midfielder might not feature much but if he does – and if he finds the back of the net – there won’t have been a more popular goalscorer for some time.
Sweden, meanwhile, lack big names – Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s shadow no longer looms over the team – but Janne Andersson’s squad will give most opposition a game. There’s perhaps not a lot of goals in it, with Marcus Berg the roster’s top scorer with 19 goals in 69 appearances, but they’ll be robust and hard to beat.
Spain’s extra quality should nevertheless come through. Enrique has a good balance of youth, energy and experience, and a 2-1 win isn’t out of the question with relevant bookmakers.
While Spain will hog the football, Sweden will remain a threat – set pieces are going to be particularly crucial. The like of Sergio Ramos will be needed but if the Madrid captain slips up, a Sweden goal is likely to follow. But Spain should net too, making Unibet’s 29/20 on both teams to score an interesting option.
Even against minnows Malta, Spain didn’t run riot. They took a 2-0 win with goals from Alvaro Morata, and Sweden will put up greater resistance. It might take some time for Spain to pull away, so the half time draw/full time Spain win at 3/1 from Unibet is in play.
Head to Head
Spain and Sweden have met 13 times, with six Spain wins, four draws and three Sweden wins.
Spain outscore Sweden 21-15 in head-to-head meetings.
Spain and Sweden last met at Euro 2008, when Spain won 2-1. Fernando Torres opened the scoring before Ibrahimovic equalised, but a 90th minute Fernando Torres goal settled the tie in favour of the eventual tournament winners.
Sweden’s last win over Spain came in 2006, a Euro 2008 qualifier. Unanswered goals from Johan Elmander and Marcus Allback did the damage.
Both Robin Quaison and Viktor Claesson netted for Sweden in each of their opening two Euro 2020 qualification fixtures.
Sweden have one Spain-based player in their squad – Alaves forward John Guidetti, who has also represented Celta Vigo.
Football manager is my life, but have taken up writing to help put all that knowledge playing the game to good use. Follow me for all things European football and gain unexpected knowledge about players and teams you didn't know before. When not playing football manager, I take a break to play with my Sunday League team.