Sweden v Belgium, Wednesday June 22
Nice, Live on ITV, 8pm
Group E concludes this evening as Italy take on Ireland in Lille and Sweden play Belgium at the Allianz Riviera, Nice (8pm, ITV) in the last of the Euro 2016 Group matches.
Sweden – the story so far
Despite having had a thoroughly underwhelming Euro 2016, Sweden come into their final group match knowing that a win against Belgium still leaves them in second place in Group D and qualifying for the Round of 16 (unless Ireland beat Italy by a very unlikely scoreline). Anything apart from a win would leave Sweden with just 2 points, and whilst that could leave them in 3rd place in the group, it won’t be enough for to send them through as one of the 4 best 3rd placed sides. It’s win or nothing.
Sweden come into the match following a 1-0 loss to Italy where Eder’s linking run and fine finish consigned them to a late, late defeat. Until that point, Erik Hamren’s team had seen the bulk of possession and chances go their way, so they will have been bitterly disappointed to leave the game with nothing.
Star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be playing his last ever international game for the Swedes having announced on Tuesday that he would be retiring after Sweden’s final Euro 2016 game. You can be sure that he’ll be trying every trick in the book to help Sweden get through this one, but I really fancy him to get a goal tonight.
Belgium – the story so far
Belgium have been the definition of ‘hit and miss’ so far this tournament. In their first game they were made to look absolutely ordinary by the clinical Italians, but in their second match against Ireland they cut through Martin O’Neill’s men like a surgeon and produced probably Euro 2016’s finest team display to date in a 3-0 victory.
Belgium know that all they need to do in this match is pick up a point in order to guarantee themselves second place in the Group. Italy will finish top, regardless of any other results, so there isn’t the added incentive for Belgium to play an over-attacking game. You would imagine that should they go a goal up they would then chance their system to play more counter-attacking football and look to catch the Swedes on the break as they inevitably chase the game.
After a slow start, you feel that the Ireland match could just be the making of this Belgium team, and now they will kick on in the tournament. Finishing as runners up in the group could be the best thing that’s ever happened to Marc Wilmots’ men as now they look likely to be heading straight for the easier half of the draw. However, on the other hand, you can’t rule out Zlatan having one final moment in the spotlight, and if the big Swede puts in a performance to remember it could just be the Swede’s who provide the latest shock in Euro 2016.
- Belgium to win and both teams to score @
- Zlatan to score the winner! @
- Sweden to come from behind and win @
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