Group E enters its final round of fixtures, as Sweden and Poland face off in an intriguing contest with everything to fight for on Wednesday.
The intensity and excitement at UEFA Euro 2020 are building up nicely around this time. With the final group phase fixtures ongoing, there is plenty in store for teams who still have not cut into the Last 16 stage of the tournament. But, of course, one of the most exciting games comes from Group E as Sweden take on Poland.
Sweden started their journey as clear underdogs to Luis Enrique’s Spain, although they now lead the charts heading into the final fixture. With four points from their two games and the top spot theirs to lose, Sweden are guaranteed a place in the Round of 16, with a draw sufficient for progression.
Meanwhile, Poland have talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski to thank for keeping them in the hunt for a place into the next round. The Bayern Munich striker’s equaliser against Spain earned them a much-needed point to keep their hopes alive going into the game against Sweden.
A win for Poland will make matters tricky in the group. A Polish win will hurt Sweden’s chances of topping the group. The outcome of the other game also remains important; for instance, if Spain vs Slovakia ends in a draw, then progression will be judged based on goal difference.
Team News & Tactics
Janne Andersson will be thinking hard about making any changes to the current lineup or keeping things the way they are. Sweden are yet to concede a goal, although they have not been precisely prolific in front. A draw and a win, yielding one goal in total, courtesy of that penalty, distance the team from being a potent force in attack.
There have been some calls to replace veteran striker Marcus Berg in the lineup, as the striker has been unable to make an impact so far. Robin Quaison could be the man to replace Berg, but it remains to be seen if Andersson takes those calls seriously to make an impactful change.
On a positive note, Dejan Kulusevski and Mattias Svanberg were cleared to play after testing negative for coronavirus. Therefore, those players could play a part in this game, especially Kulusevski, who could be a real contender for an attacking role. However, Andersson could eventually retain the same side for this game with stability in mind and not losing the game being the target.
Predicted Lineup (4-4-2) Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Danielson, Augustinsson; Larsson, Olsson, Ekdal, Forsberg; Berg, Isak
Paulo Sousa will have Grzegorz Krychowiak to call upon after the midfielder served his red card suspension. However, this change could be somewhat forced upon the current lineup, as the team put good performances against the fluid Spanish side. Krychowiak could come in for either Mateusz Klich or Jakub Moder.
Considering the shortage of strikers in this Polish squad, Robert Lewandowski and Karol Swiderski will continue in the strike partnership. In addition, Piotr Zielinski will continue his deeper role in the attack, something he did well in the last game after being moved out of the front two.
In defence, Paulo Sousa will continue with his three-man unit of Bartosz Bereszynski, Kamil Glik and Jan Bednarek, each of whom stood firm against the Spanish attack in the last game.
Predicted Lineup (3-4-1-2): Szczesny; Bereszynski, Glik, Bednarek; Jozwiak, Klich, Krychowiak, Puchacz; Zielinski; Swiderski, Lewandowski
- Sweden have clean sheets in their last 4-games at the UEFA European Championship,
- Poland are undefeated in 18 of their previous 20 European Championship games.
- Sweden have won their last three games against Poland in all competitions, scoring at least twice in this period.
Player To Watch
Much has been said about players of unknown quantity performing like their lives were on the line. Alexander Isak may not be an unknown quantity, but surely someone the majority have never witnessed before in depth. The lanky forward is taking full advantage of his position, achieved due to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury and is proving to be a shining light for Sweden.
His overall gameplay has been edgy rather than prolific, with goals drying up at the moment. However, Isak has shown composure and his combination play reeks of maturity beyond his age. He will be the man to watch for Sweden, especially when he brings his teammates into play.
Synonymous with Poland, Lewandowski proved his merit in the last game with a well-taken goal to equalise from what was only half-a-chance. The goal visibly kept Poland in the competition, and yet again, their hopes will remain on the Bayern striker’s performances.
Lewandowski is not new to pressure, but he would need his teammates behind him to work hard and provide him with the chances to score. If Polish attackers can do that, then there’s no stopping Lewandowski from scoring and yet again giving his team the lift when it matters.
Sweden 1-1 Poland
Both teams have shown a lack of sharp attacks, and subsequently, the goals have dried up. Sweden have only one goal to offer so far in their two games, with that strike coming from the penalty spot. However, both sides have shown a knack for stubborn defending.
The defence will be crucial to the result of this game, as both teams are expected to score scarcely. Therefore, expect this game to end in a draw, meaning Sweden will make it to the Round of 16, possibly as Group E winners.