Sweden and Poland go head-to-head in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday evening as Group E at Euro 2020 comes to a close. Mark O'Haire analyses the odds.
"Sweden have produced two obdurate and organised efforts already and will be quite happy to revert to their tried-and-trusted defensive system here in order to eeke out a point."
Sweden v Poland
Wednesday June 23, 17:00
Live on ITV
Sweden earn vital victory
Emil Forsberg's second-half penalty ensured Sweden took a huge step towards qualifying for the last-16 at Euro 2020 with victory against Slovakia in Saint Petersburg. RB Leipzig's Forsberg slotted in with 13 minutes remaining after substitute Robin Quaison was brought down by goalkeeper Martin Dubravka, the only goal of the game in a tight tussle.
The Scandinavians edged a timid opening 45 minutes with captain Sebastian Larsson's deflected effort from outside the penalty area the only shot on-target. But Janne Andersson's side came to life after the interval, with Dubravka producing several eye-catching saves to thwart Ludwig Augustinsson and Marcus Danielson's headed attempts.
Alexander Isak was again the Blue-Yellow's standout performer in forward areas; the Real Sociedad youngster starred as Sweden asserted themselves, and provided the ball into Quaison as he won the decisive spot-kick. Victory means Andersson's outfit now lead Group E and will secure a top-two finish by avoiding defeat here.
Poland improve against Spain
Robert Lewandowski scored his first goal of Euro 2020 as Poland held Spain to keep alive their hopes of reaching the knockouts on Saturday night. The Eagles knew that a defeat would mean they could not progress from Group E and they fell behind towards the end of the first half when Alvaro Morata's close-range finish was given by VAR.
But Lewandowski, who had struggled to make an impact in Poland's opening-game defeat to Slovakia, equalised early in the second half when he thumped home a header. Having restored parity, Paulo Sousa's side came under plenty of late pressure with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny called into making a couple of vital saves to preserve the point.
Sousa was full of praise for his players post-match, highlighting the courage, ambition, attitude and self-confidence in the group. The Portuguese coach is now targeting top honours from Poland's final Group E fixture - a draw is unlikely to be enough for the Eagles to progress, although three points against Sweden should ensure a last-16 berth.
Wednesday's match-up will be the sides' 27th meeting with Sweden having won 14 of the previous 26 - including the last five. The Scandinavians are unbeaten in their past seven showdowns with Poland (W6-D1-L0), although the most recent clash came in a friendly back in 2004. Poland came out on top in the sides' only previous major tournament fixture.
Sweden 2.9215/8 endured a poor Nations League campaign against tough opposition but Janne Andersson's men have since built momentum. Georgia, Kosovo, Estonia, Finland, and Armenia were all dispatched before Spain were held and Slovakia overcome. You have to go back to 2017 for the Blue-Yellow's last competitive loss against a side outside of the elite.
Poland 2.6413/8 produced a much-need improvement against Spain, although the schedule hasn't been kind on the Eagles. Paulo Sousa's side have had to travel back to Saint Petersburg with a day's less rest compared to their opposition, and question marks remain over their ability to get the best out of Robert Lewandowski with a poor supporting cast.
Third round group games at major tournaments tend to open up with goals per-game averages increasing from 2.15 in the first round to 2.62 in pool stage concluders from the European Championship. Since the start of Euro '96, a reasonable 51% of third round group games have produced Over 2.5 Goals 2.3611/8 and there's plenty on the line here.
Poland know victory is imperative to their prospects of reaching the knockout stage and Paulo Sousa has talked up a positive, attack-minded display from his players. However, Sweden have produced two obdurate and organised efforts already and will be quite happy to revert to their tried-and-trusted defensive system here in order to eeke out a point.
Sweden look a touch underrated in the pre-match markets but our best bet could be to take Sweden in the Double Chance market alongside Under 3.5 Goals. We'll be paid out should the Scandinavians win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1, as well as having the 0-0 and 1-1 correct scores onside. It's a 1.774/5 option via the Bet Builder on the Sportsbook.
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