Spain will be aiming to book their place in next summer’s European Championships, when they take on Sweden in a Group F clash on Tuesday.
The top two of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers Group F will lock horns against each other on Tuesday night, when leaders Spain travel to Stockholm to take on second-placed Sweden at the Friends Arena.
Spain saw their 100 percent record in the Qualifiers come to an end last week after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Norway. But, they are comfortably placed at the top of the group, having accumulated 19 points from their 7 matches till date. And a point in their next game will be enough for Robert Moreno’s men to seal their berth in the UEFA Euro 2020.
Sweden are currently second in Group F, five points shy of leaders Spain. They head into Tuesday’s encounter in high spirits after thrashing Malta 4-0 in their last game. But, Janne Andersson’s side will be aware that their only defeat in the Qualifiers came against La Roja and will be keen on avoiding a similar outcome at home, especially with Romania just a point behind them in third place.
The last encounter between these two nations saw Spain seal a 3-0 win, courtesy second half goals from Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal. And ahead of their upcoming Group F clash in Stockholm, we take a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Sweden have no major injury concerns heading into Tuesday’s clash while there are no players suspended either, which should allow manager Andersson field his strongest XI against the group leaders. Not a lot of changes are expected from the game against Malta last week.
In goal, Robin Olsen is a guaranteed starter for the Blue and Yellow, while Mikael Lustig and Pierre Bengtsson should be retained as the two full-backs. Manchester United star Victor Lindelof could come back into the lineup though, to partner captain Andreas Granqvist at the heart of the defence.
Sweden should continue to field a 4-4-2, with seasoned campaigner Sebastian Larrson, who scored twice against Malta, on the right flank and RB Leipzig’s creator-in-chief Emil Forsberg slotting in on the left side. The sweeping up duties in the middle of the park will fall to vice-captain Albin Ekdal, who will be supported by the 24-year-old Kristoffer Olsson.
Up ahead in attack, Marcus Berg, who is the highest goalscorer in the current Sweden squad with 19 strikes from 74 appearances, should hold on to his spot. He will once again be partnered by Robin Quaison, who is Sweden’s leading goalscorer in the qualifying campaign with 4 goals to his name.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Granqvist, Bengtsson; Larsson, Olsson, Ekdal, Forsberg; Berg, Quaison
Spain have been dealt a blow as captain Sergio Ramos will be suspended for the game, after picking up this third yellow card of the Qualifiers against Norway. There are no other fresh injury or suspension concerns for the visitors and given the importance of the game manager Moreno might refrain from making a whole lot of changes to the team.
In goal, Kepa Arrizabalaga is the first-choice ahead of David de Gea and Pau Lopez and that is unlikely to change on Tuesday. There could be a couple of alterations in defence, with Dani Carvajal likely to push Jesus Navas at right-back, while Inigo Martinez should replace Ramos at the centre. Raul Albiol and Juan Bernat are likely to hold on to their places.
While Rodri is pushing for a start at the base of the three-man midfield for Spain, Moreno could stick with Sergio Busquets in order to have a senior figurehead on the field in the absence of Ramos. Saul Niguez, who scored the only goal against Norway, should also be retained, but Fabian Ruiz could make way for Thiago Alcantara in the third midfield slot.
Mikel Oyarzabal and Dani Ceballos are expected to continue on the right and left sides of the attacking trident for Spain. But, there could be a change in the centre-forward position, with Rodrigo Moreno making way for Gerard Moreno, who is the joint top-scorer in La Liga this season.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga; Carvajal, Albiol, Martinez, Bernat; Thiago, Busquets, Saul; Oyarzabal, Gerard Moreno, Ceballos
- Tuesday’s contest in Stockholm will be the 14th meeting between Spain and Sweden. The former have the upper-hand in head-to-head records, having won 6 of the previous 13 matches, while losing just thrice (D4).
- Spain have won all of their previous three clashes against Sweden. The last time the Blues and Yellows beat La Roja was back in 2006 – a 2-0 win in the UEFA Euro 2008 Qualifiers.
- Since their defeat to Spain in June, Sweden are unbeaten in their three subsequent fixtures, picking up 4-0 victories against both Faroe Islands and Malta, while playing out a 1-1 draw against Sweden.
- Spain are currently on an eight-game unbeaten run dating back to November 2018. La Roja have won seven matches during this run (D1), scoring 19 goals in the process while conceding just four times.
- Sweden have managed to score more than once against Spain in just four of their 13 previous encounters. Spain have kept five clean sheets in these 13 matches while the Swedes have managed just two.
Player to Watch
It will be a night to remember for Gerard Moreno as he could be set to make his international debut for Spain against Sweden. The 27-year-old has made a solid start to the 2019-20 season, having already netted 6 goals in 8 La Liga matches for Villarreal, which has led to him earning the call-up to the national team.
Currently the joint top-scorer in the Spanish top-flight, alongside Real Madrid star Karim Benzema and Loren Moron, the 27-year-old Moreno has been in very good form, and will be keen on marking his debut with a goal that would help Spain confirm their place in the next summer’s European Championships.
Sweden 1-2 Spain
Spain are just a point away from winning a spot in the UEFA Euro 2020 and will be keen on bouncing back after failing to get over the line against Norway last time out. But, without Sergio Ramos on the field, hosts Sweden will fancy their chances against the Group F leaders, especially playing on home turf in front of their supporters.
However, Spain have not lost to Sweden in their last three meetings and beat them quite convincingly in the Qualifiers earlier this year. And hence, we at The Hard Tackle are predicting a hard-fought 2-1 win for Robert Moreno’s men that will confirm their involvement in the next summer’s finals.