Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Sweden vs Belgium Euro 2016 Football Match Preview And Prediction - June 23, 2016


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Sweden will again be without right-back Mikael Lustig due to a groin strain.

Coach Erik Hamren looks set to stick with Marcus Berg up front, ahead of fellow misfiring forward John Guidetti, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic's strike partner.

Belgium midfielder Mousa Dembele is unlikely to be risked after suffering an ankle injury against the Republic of Ireland, so Radja Nainggolan may start.

Defensive duo Jan Vertonghen and Thomas Vermaelen will both start the game a booking away from a suspension.

Belgium only need a point against Sweden to secure qualification as runners-up. They would go out if they lose and the Republic of Ireland win.

Sweden will qualify as runners-up if they win - as long as the Republic of Ireland don't beat Italy by at least three goals.

If Sweden and Ireland both claim victories and the Irish win by at least a three-goal margin it becomes possible for Sweden to drop to third - but four points would guarantee they qualify as one of the best third-placed sides.

Defeat would eliminate Sweden - as would a draw coupled with an Ireland win. If Sweden end third on two points they are unlikely to go through as one of the best third-placed teams.

It's a tale of two strikers in Nice. Romelu Lukaku put a disappointing outing in Belgium's opener behind him with a two-goal display against the Republic of Ireland. Meanwhile Swedish star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is yet to score at Euro 2016 and is goalless in his last four games for Sweden.

The 34-year-old will retire from international football after the tournament and is still hoping to bow out in style. "To finish with a disappointment - never," he said on Tuesday.

Lukaku's goals were vindication for Belgium coach Marc Wilmots, who opted to stand by the forward despite calls for him to be dropped after their opening game defeat.

The situation could not be more different for Ibrahimovic. The Swede entered the tournament to much fanfare, yet he is still to test an opposition goalkeeper as indeed are any of his team-mates. Sweden are the only country yet to have a shot on target.

Head-to-head

Belgium have won seven of 14 previous meetings against Sweden, who in turn have recorded five victories.
However it's the Swedes with 30 goals who have scored more, Belgium have found the net 22 times.
The two nations have met only once in a major tournament, Belgium won 2-1 in their opening game at Euro 2000, a competition they co-hosted.
Belgium head coach Marc Wilmots played in that 2-1 win in Brussels.
Sweden's last win in this fixture was a 2-0 success in qualifying for the 1962 World Cup.
The Belgians are unbeaten in the last three encounters, winning the last two.
Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard both scored as Belgium won 2-0 in an away friendly when the countries last met in June 2014.

Sweden

Sweden are competing at their fifth successive Euro finals, and their sixth in total. They have not made it through the group stage since reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2004.
They have lost five of their last seven games at the Euros (W1, D1). They have also kept only one clean sheet in that run.
Since the group stages were introduced in 1980, Sweden are the first team who have failed to hit a shot on target in their first two games of a European Championship.
He was the second highest scorer in qualifying for Euro 2016 with 11 goals - including three in the play-offs.

Belgium

Belgium's best major tournament outing came 36 years ago, as they finished as runners-up to West Germany at Euro 1980.
Their three-goal win against Ireland equalled their biggest victory at a major tournament (also 3-0 v El Salvador at the 1970 World Cup).
Belgium have not drawn any of their last nine European Championship games, winning three and losing six since their last stalemate - a 0-0 draw against Italy in 1980.
After winning their last game against Ireland, the Red Devils have the opportunity to win back-to-back games at the European Championships for the first time.
Romelu Lukaku has scored six goals in his last six games for Belgium.
Kevin De Bruyne has had a hand in 10 goals in his last 10 appearances for Belgium (five goals, five assists).

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