Plucky Slovakia to come unstuck
Sweden come in as favourites on matchday two against Slovakia in Saint Petersburg after a resilient 0-0 draw with Group E favourites Spain. The Swedes barely laid a glove on the Spaniards throughout the match but the skill of Real Sociedad bagsman Alexander Isak forced two clear openings that on another day, would have seen them run out as surprise victors. Slovakia were a tad fortunate with an own goal and a red card benefiting them in the first game seeing them earn an unlikely 2-1 win over Poland to begin the tournament in the perfect way. The Falcons still have an uphill task to progress with Sweden and Spain looking a cut above in Group E.
Despite dropping points in the first match, Spain will still be considered overwhelming favourites to get the better of Poland and Slovakia and press on to top the group. However if Sweden can get over the line in this one it puts them in a great position ahead of their remaining final group game against Poland. There has been a lot of talk about how one victory is almost enough to take you through even in third place, though that is likely to rely on a solid goal difference. Northern Ireland took the final third place qualification spot at Euro 2016 and that was three points and 0 goal difference, Slovakia currently sit at +1, therefore losing the next two would see them post a negative goal difference, they still have work to do.
Key man for Sweden Dejan Kulusevski will miss this match as well after testing positive for COVID-19, the Juventus forward could make a prominent impact in the knockout stage if the Swedes can take care of business in his absence. Robin Quaison could come in for stalwart Marcus Berg, after his open goal miss against Spain, adding more speed and unpredictability to the attack. If the Blue and Yellow can defend with half the organisation and application as they did last time out then another clean sheet could be on the cards here, it will be interesting to see how their traditional 4-4-2 system stacks up against the Slovaks' more fluid unit.
Sweden have never lost and have only conceded once in five meetings with Slovakia dating back to 2000. They capped a striking 6-0 victory in a friendly in early 2017 when Isak grabbed the opener, Sweden should be full of confidence coming into this one, with the chance of reaching the summit of Group E.