Sweden - Overview & Facts
Sweden finished at a second place in the EURO 2020/2021 qualifiers and it was not bad at all as they only had Spain ahead of them when it was all said and done. Both Norway and Romania got to see themselves behind in the battle for second place in the group. The Swedish qualifier was as good as you can expect with 21 out of 30 possible points, and with a good margin down to third place. EURO 2020/2021 will be Janne Andersson's second major championship since he took charge from Erik Hamrén. WC 2018 was a great success where Sweden went all the way to the quarterfinals.
Regardless of individual achievements, the team effort must be at it best if Sweden is to compete against the strongest nations. Janne Andersson has no major star players to work with, but players from major clubs such as Juventus, Leipzig, Manchester United and Everton still give some respect to the team. Dejan Kulusevski and Alexander Isak are two players looking for a breakout moment in the national team, so keep an eye on them.
Sweden to win the match Bet Sweden to win Euro 2020
The battle for second place behind Spain – who is obviously the number one rank - many people believe should be between Sweden and Poland. The latter comes with Robert Lewandowski in the forefront and are a strong contender but Slovakia also wants to have their say about it. They qualified to the tournament via playoff and are ranked last in the group, without in any way being expected to be a punching bag.
UPDATE: The Swedish team has played just as one would expect as of late, and these are their results in 2021:
- Sweden 1-0 Georgia (WC qualifier)
- Kosovo 0-3 Sweden (WC qualifier)
- Sweden 1-0 Estonia
- Sweden 2-0 Finland
- Sweden 3-1 Armenia
Five straight wins for Janne Andersson and his men is the result of hard-working players with the system as their priority. Sweden has only allowed one goal in five matches, and while the competition will take several steps up in EURO 2020/2021, that is a great sign. Will it be enough against Spain? That's a big ask, but with a super solid defence a point could definitely be secured. The bad news is that the Swedish team has been hit with a couple of Covid-19 cases, out one which is the important Kulusevski. Remains to be seen if more issues arise from this...
Sweden at EURO 2020/2021
Sweden faced the toughest opponent in their opening match - Spain. Considering that the match was played in Seville the Swedish team performed a miracle by conquering one point. However, the discussion has been about how it was achieved. The match was an historical domination from the Spanish side who won the possession by 86-14 (!) and passed by 917-162. Sweden clearly went to Spain with complete lockdown in mind, and well, it was achieved. No matter how it was achieved, 0-0 was a great result for the Swedes, and some criticism for the defensive mindset won't take their point away.
Even if Sweden was extremely focused on defence, the offense managed to produce a couple of top class chances. Mainly through Alexander Isak, who is looking for his international breakthrough in EURO 2020/2021, and he is well on his way. As Sweden will face the two weaker teams in the group it's clear that the super defence will be changed to "normal" play. A player like Isak could be a treat to watch if he keeps on showing the same magic as against Spain.
For sure, a good effort is required from the Swedes', but as is well known, they usually perform more than well in matches like this.
Slovakia - Overview & Facts
Slovakia certainly did not get an easy draw for EURO 2020/2021, but it could have been even worse. Now hard-to-beat Sweden awaits and this could very well be something of a key match in group E. With only two championships under their belt, few experts and fans like expect success, and this could be the silver lining for Slovakia, who has nothing to lose. In previous championships, they have advanced from the group stage on both occasions. Many people may remember the upset against Italy in 2010 and in the previous European Championship tournament it was Russia that was defeated.
In the EURO 2020/2021 qualifiers Slovakia ended up quite a bit behind Croatia, which was expected considering that Croatia took World Cup silver as late as 2018. The fact that Wales also finished ahead of Slovakia in the final table makes it difficult to give Slovakia any other performance verdict than modest. They failed to qualify and it was instead the Nations League performances that took Slovakia to EURO 2020/2021. Both Ireland and Northern Ireland were narrowly defeated, which was good, but it has not been an easy road to get to this summer's championship.
Slovakia to win the match Bet Slovakia to win Euro 2020
Slovakia still has Marek Hamšík in midfield as their big leader. He played for many years as team captain in Napoli and he still performs on a high level. EURO 2020/2021 may be his last chance to achieve something big with the Slovak national team and there are some other experienced players in the team as well. The defence general, Martin Škrtel, made an impression during his eight years at Liverpool and is a leader in the back line. There is also Inter's Skriniar who is a quality defender of high class. Veteran Pekarik is an experienced alternative in addition to the well-known Kucka, the duo Duda and Lobotka should also be mentioned. As you can see the team has a strong foundation for EURO 2020/2021, but they might lack the real edge that is needed to win against the biggest nations.
UPDATE: Slovakia's matches in 2021 bolster our idea of them facing issues in EURO 2020/2021, and they have performed as follows:
- Cyprus 0-0 Slovakia (WC qualifier)
- Slovakia 2-2 Malta (WC qualifier)
- Slovakia 2-1 Russia (WC qualifier)
- Slovakia 1-1 Bulgaria
- Austria 0-0 Slovakia
While the win over Russia was a nice scalp, Slovakia has struggled heavily - draws against Cyprus and Malta in important matches is simply not good enough. The preparation matches against Bulgaria and Austria have not been exactly sparkling either, but at least Slovakia has shown that they can play lock-down football and stop their opponents.
Slovakia at EURO 2020/2021
In the opening match of the championship, Slovakia went up against Poland in a very heated battle between two rivals. Poland, with the superstar Lewandowski, was quite heavily favored, but Slovakia managed to take an early lead to shake things up. The 1-0 goal in the 18th minute got credit as an own goal after an unfortunate post bounce hit the Polish goalkeeper, Szczęsny, in the back and went in the net. What followed was a perfectly executed strategy by Slovakia, who rarely were under any real pressure in the first half.
The second half would however shake things up, and Poland got a quick equalizer through Karol Linetty in the first minute of the second half. The match continued in an even battle until Poland took a red card, and heavily reduced their chances of starting EURO 2020/2021 with a success. Just seven minutes later, in the 69th, Milan Škriniar scored 2-1 for the Slovaks. With one man more on the pitch, Štefan Tarkovič's men sailed the win home in style, and Slovakia deserves all the credit for their performance.
With 3 points Slovakia is one step closer to the playoffs, but more points will be needed, and their best chance is right here and now against Sweden. Can they surprise again? They sure have improved their chances with the great showing against Poland.