EURO 2016: Ireland-Sweden
In the second Monday game, we will be in for an interesting opening duel of the Group E, featuring a clash between Ireland and Sweden. Both of these teams only secured their spots at the tournament in the qualifying play-offs and there is little to separate between them on paper which is why we are likely to see a very tight battle. However, the Swedes do have what can be considered an x-factor Ã¢â‚¬â€œ their iconic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic who is known for his ability to decide great matches. Having him in the squad is probably the only reason why Sweden have a slightly better chance of winning the fixture. Kicking off at 6 PM (CET), the Group E duel Ireland vs. Sweden will be played at Stade de France in Paris.
The Irish had a hard time securing their spot in the EURO tournament. They finished third in their group behind Germany and Poland, which sent them to the tricky play-off where they faced Bosnia and Herzegovina. After a 1:1 draw claimed in the first away leg, Ireland won the home replay (2:0), booking the coveted spot in France. In their preparation for the championship, OÃ‚Â´NeillÃ‚Â´s team played just four games in which they beat Switzerland (1:0), drew with Slovakia (2:2) and the Netherlands (1:1) and in their final warm-up duel, they lost to Belarus (1:2). Lacking any world-class stars, the current Irish side base their game on team performance and sturdy, aggressive defence. Sadly for Ireland, they will probably be without their captain and key player Robbie Keane in their first duel against Sweden as the forward has been struggling for fitness. Another concern for the Irish is their head-to-head statistics against Sweden Ã¢â‚¬â€œ out of the last seven matches between these two teams, Ireland won just one (a friendly game in 2006).
Just like their Monday rivals, Sweden also had troubles qualifying for the European championship. After finishing third in the group, they had to go to the play-offs with their regional rivals Denmark who they eventually eliminated after winning 2:1at home and claiming a 1:1 draw in the away rematch. In their pre-tournament preparation, the Swedish played four friendly games. In March, they travelled to Turkey where they lost 1:2 to the home side. A few days later, HamrenÃ‚Â´s men hosted the Czech Republic who held them to a 1:1 draw. In their next friendly match, Sweden took on Slovenia but not even this game ended up in their coveted victory as the teams played to a goalless draw. In fact, it was not until their final warm-up clash against Wales when they finally tasted victory again after they outclassed the British 3:0. In their EURO 2016 opener, the Scandinavians will face Ireland, knowing they will probably have to win the fixture to keep their chances of advancing further alive as their next two opponents will be European heavyweights Italy and Belgium.
The largest Parisian stadium will be the site of a great football match as it will host the Group E opener between Ireland and Sweden. Considering the toughness and competiveness of the group, both of these sides will surely go for a win in the upcoming duel. Sweden keep a healthy record against Ireland and they have one of the worldÃ‚Â´s greatest forwards but the Irish achieved better results in the preparation. To find out which of these two teams will eventually have the upper hand in this interesting encounter, we will have to wait until Monday night.
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