Group E continues at Euro 2016 in France on Friday, June 17th with 12th-ranked Italy taking on 35th-ranked Sweden in Toulouse. The Italians managed to down the second-ranked team in the world Belgium 2-0 in their tournament opener while Sweden drew 1-1 with 33rd-ranked Republic of Ireland. Italy was crowned champions of Europe back in 1968 and has lost a pair of Finals while Sweden is seeking their first European championship. Sweden and Ireland are seen as the underdogs of this group with Italy and Belgium being the favorites to advance to the knockout stages.
Bet on Italy vs Sweden – Pinnacle SOCCER BETTING LINE:
- Pinnacle Sports currently lists Italy as the favorites at -116 with Sweden +416 and a draw at +246
Italy vs Sweden – Head to Head:
- The most recent contest between the sides was in November of 2009 with Italy winning 1-0 at home. Italy is unbeaten in the last four meetings with three wins and a draw. Sweden’s last win was 1-0 at home in June of 1998. The nations have met 21 times in the past with Italy winning nine, losing six and drawing six.
Italy lost the Euro 2012 Final to Spain and then had a disappointing 2014 World Cup as they failed to advance from the group stage. This is a new-look Italian side with players such as Mario Balotelli and Andre Pirlo being left at home. The Italians went undefeated in their qualifying campaign with seven wins and three draws to finish their group four two points ahead of runners-up Croatia. However, Italy didn’t really look that impressive and only managed to beat lowly Malta twice by a score of 1-0. Italy played four pre-tournament games this year and drew Spain 1-1 at home before losing 4-1 on the road in Germany. They then beat Scotland 1-0 and Finland 2-0 at home.
Aging veteran Gianluigi Buffon is the number one goalkeeper still and proved it against Belgium in the opener. He’s backed up by Federico Marchetti and Salvatore Sirigu. The defenders include Giorgio Chiellini, Matteo Darmian, Angelo Ogbonna, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci. The midfield includes Tiago Motta, Stefano Sturaro, Daniele De Rossi, Stephan El Shaarwy and Emanuele Giaccherini. Italy’s forwards are Simone Zaza, Graziano Pelle, Ciro Immobile, Eder and Lorenzo Insigne. Many fans felt Sebastian Giovinco of Toronto FC should have been one of the strikers as he’s been in terrific form in Major League Soccer over the past two seasons.
Sweden placed 11th at Euro 2012 and 10th at Euro 2008. They finished third in their qualifying group for Euro 2016 and then edged neighboring Denmark 4-3 in the two-legged playoff round. They placed 10 points behind group winners Austria and a pair back of Russia. They finished the qualifying campaign with five wins, three draws and two defeats. Sweden went 1-2 at both Euro 2008 and 2012 and failed to make it past the group stage. They lost 2-1 in Turkey in a recent pre-tournament match and drew at home with Slovenia and the Czech Republic. They also managed an impressive 3-0 victory over Wales.
Andreas Isaksson looks to be Sweden’s top goaltender and he’s backed up by Robin Olsen and Patrik Carlgren. Their defenders include Erik Johansson, Pontus Jansson, Victor Lindelof, Mikael Lustig and Martin Olsson. The midfield features players such as Jimmy Durmaz, Albin Ekdal, Sebastian Larsson, Pontus Wernbloom, Oscar Lewicki and Kim Kallstrom. The Swedish forwards for this tournament are Marcus Berg, John Guidetti, Emir Kujovic and the incomparable Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Italy downed Belgium with Emanuele Giaccherini scoring to give them in the first half and Graziano Pelle then adding an insurance marker about a minute before the final whistle blew. A win against Sweden here should guarantee them a spot in the second round with their last group contest coming against the Republic of Ireland. Sweden fought back for their 1-1 draw against Ireland after the Irish took the lead early on in the second half. Sweden kept pressing though and were finally rewarded with the equalizer courtesy of an own goal by Ireland’s Ciaran Clark in the 71st minute.
by Ian S. Palmer