The Republic of Ireland face Sweden in the opening Euro 2016 Group E fixture at the Stade de France in Paris.
This is the third appearance for Ireland at the EURO Cup finals appearance, but failed to make through the group stage on all occasions. The Irish team’s biggest achievement on international competitions was a quarter-final appearance at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. The Martin O’Neill managed side were third in their European qualification group and defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1 on aggregate in the play-offs. They will be keen to put behind the disappointing run at the EURO 2012, where they lost all three group matches.
Sweden are appearing in their sixth Euro Cup finals and fifth in succession. The previous occasion that they made it through the group stage was in 2004, failing to go pass their group in the next two tournaments. Just like their Monday’s opponent Sweden finished third in their qualifying groups and defeated Denmark 4-3 on aggregate in the play-offs.
Ireland are on a three match run without win. They lost 2-1 to Belarus in their final warm up match and drawn against Netherlands, and Slovakia. They were victorious in the previous two matches and were on a 5 match unbeaten run. Ireland had scored at least one goal in each of their last 11 matches.
Sweden are undefeated in 9 of their last 10 matches, with 5 wins and 4 draws and their only defeat during the time was against Turkey. However, they had won just twice in their last 7 matches.
Ireland: Team News
Robbie Keane is a major doubt with injury, while Jonathan Walters and Robbie Brady are struggling for fitness, but the latter two are expected to start against Sweden.
James McCarthy has recovered from his injury and is in line to start in the midfield partnering Glenn Whelan and Jeff Hendrick.
Ireland: Predicted Line-up (4-3-2-1)
Randolph – Brady, Clark, O’Shea, Coleman – McCarthy, Whelan, Hendrick – Hoolahan – Long, Walters.
Sweden: Team News
Sweden head-coach Erik Hamren has no injury concerns and has a fully fit squad at his disposal and expect him to start with the strongest possible line-up for this important fixture.
Sweden: Predicted Line-up (4-4-2)
Isaksson – Olsson, Lindelof, Granqvist, Lustig – Forsberg, Ekdal, Kallstrom, Durmaz – Berg, Ibrahimovic.
Ireland vs Sweden: Head-to-Head Stats
Sweden have a healthy head-to-head record against Ireland after winning in 5 of the 10 meetings between the two, while they lost 3 and drawn 2.
Sweden have never lost to Ireland in a competitive match, the record reads 4 wins and 2 draws from 6 matches.
The last meeting between the two sides wad in the World Cup 2014 qualification play-offs, where Sweden clinch the tie on 2-1 aggregate with a win by the same scoreline at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, after drawing the first leg 0-0 at home.
Ireland vs Sweden: Prediction
Ireland are on a good scoring form and found the back of the net in 11 consecutive matches, irrespective of the result. They lost just two matches since November 2014 and they look more like a team that are capable of holding opponents for a draw.
Sweden are more of a one man team and their hopes this year depends on the mood of Zlatan Ibrahamovic. The Swedes are often seen struggling against higher ranked teams, but they manage to hold teams of similar stature to a draw. Goal scoring is also a worry and they are once again dependent on Zlatan for that.
There is little to separate between the two sides on paper and we will be looking forward for an evenly fought contest in Paris on Monday evening. But Sweden will be backing their strong record against Ireland to get a massive result on Monday.
This is an all-important fixture that decides the third placed team of the group, so both teams are expected to go for a win. I put my money of Zlatan Ibrahamovic to score and help Sweden to earn a narrow win against Ireland in the Euro 2016 Group E opener.
Exact Score Prediction: Ireland 1-2 Sweden.
- Sweden to win (odds @ 2.38)
- Over 2.5 goals (odds 2.44)
- Both Teams to Score and Sweden to win (odds 5.76)
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score first (5.29)
*Odds from Bet-at-Home at the time of composing this article.
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