Italy v Sweden, Friday June 17
Toulouse, Live on ITV, 2pm
These two side will meet for the third time at a European Championship on Friday afternoon in Toulouse (2pm, live on ITV). The last time they met, a wonder goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic knocked the Italians out of Euro 2004. Italy will qualify with a win, whereas Sweden will look to bounce back after a lukewarm performance against Ireland.
Italy – the story so far
Antonio Conte’s men were hugely impressive in their opening group game where they defeated the over-hyped Belgium by two goals to nil. Having qualified for the tournament in decided underwhelming fashion, the first match in the tournament proper was a real reminder of the qualities that the Italian squad possess. Chelsea fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of Antonio Conte taking over at Stamford Bridge next season.
The Italian result was primarily build on a rock solid defensive base and Giorgio Chiellini and chums will be looking for another shut out when they come up against the Swedes – a clean sheet for the Italians certainly looks like a banker judging by the performances in the first group games. Up front Graziano Pelle sealed the victory against Belgium with a wonderful volley and he had a few more headed chances during the game which could have made the result certain long before the 93rd minute. He looks a certainty to start the game up front once again, and looks a good shout for first goalscorer.
Sweden – the story so far
Sweden were hugely indebted to Ciaran Clark’s own goal as they opened up their Group E campaign with an uninspiring 1-1 draw agains the Republic of Ireland in Paris. Until that point Ireland had utterly dominated the match going close through John O’Shea and Jeff Hendrick who was unlucky to see his effort come back off the crossbar. The Swedes offered little going forward and predictably, seemed overly reliant on talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Defensively, it looks likely that defender Mikael Lustig may miss out after picking up a groin injury in the first game, but Sweden will be looking to the experienced heads of midfielders Kim Källström and Sebastian Larsson to provide greater ammunition against Italy. A number of players in the Swedish team didn’t play to their full potential against the Irish, and this will be of great concern to boss Erik Hamrén who knows that against Italy his side will face an even more difficult challenge.
- Italy to keep a clean sheet @
- Italy to win 2-0 @
- Graziano Pellè first goalscorer @
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