Rep. of Ireland vs Sweden Preview

Zlatan Ibrahimovic in action against the Republic of Ireland
Can Republic of Ireland do what most teams find so difficult and stop Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
EURO 2016 Group E | Stade de France | Monday 13 June | 18:00

Republic of Ireland and Sweden will go head to head at the Stade de France on Monday night. These two teams know each other pretty well, having been drawn together in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. 

The first of the two meetings in that qualifying campaign saw the teams play out a goalless draw. The return fixture was played in Dublin six months later and ended with a 2-1 win for the Swedes. Aside from those qualifiers, the most recent meeting was a friendly in 2006 that Ireland won 3-0 thanks to goals from Damien Duff, Robbie Keane and Liam Miller.


To Win (90mins)
Rep. of Ireland 9/4
Draw 2/1
Sweden 14/10

Republic of Ireland

If you look at their history in the European Championship, Ireland don’t have much to lose as they have only qualified for the tournament twice before and have never managed to get past the group stage. 

Their most recent appearance was in 2012 when they lost all three of their games and conceded nine goals. 

It was a disappointing return but perhaps not overly surprising as they came up against the might of Spain, Italy and Croatia. 

So, following on from their performance four years ago and considering the quality of the group they are in, a point or better would be an achievement for the Irish. 

However, based on their results in qualifying, Martin O’Neill and co may have greater ambitions.


Shane Long will lead the line for the Republic of Ireland

They were drawn in a difficult group but performed well and impressively took four points from their two games against Germany. 

That was enough to earn a place in the qualifying play-offs where they met Bosnia-Herzegovina, who they beat 3-1 on aggregate – another impressive result. 

For Ireland to progress in this kind of group, their best strategy may be to soak up the pressure and burst with counter-attacks. 

The side now possess some pretty quick players – Shane Long, Seamus Coleman and Wes Hoolahan to name a few – all of whom could be deadly on the counter. 

Sweden will be the best chance to play football, and if Ireland can ruin Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s day then the match could be theirs for the taking.



Sweden

Sweden qualified through the play-offs by overcoming Scandinavian rivals Denmark, after finishing third in their group behind Austria and Russia, and they will seek to prove their credentials in this coveted major tournament. 

The Swedes will be aware that they need to get something from the match if they want to stand any chance of progressing to the next round. 

They enter the Euros looking more than ever like a one-man team, as Ibrahimovic scored 11 of the team’s last 15 goals in qualifying. 

Ireland will have to find ways to outsmart him and going by the PSG form book, that is going to prove to be some task. 

For Zlatan, the European Championship is probably the last chance to do something big on the international stage.


Sweden's biggest goal threat - Zlatan Ibrahimovic

For that to happen, though, he’ll need to get a bit more help from the rest of the squad that is often overly reliant on the towering striker. 

Sweden will need big game performances from Kim Kallstrom, John Guidetti and Sebastian Larsson.

Probable line-ups:

Republic of Ireland: 4-4-1-1
Randolph; Coleman, O’Shea, Keogh, Brady; Hendrick, McCarthy, Whelan, Walters; Hoolahan; Long

Sweden: 4-4-2
Isaksson; Lustig, Granqvist, Johansson, Olsson; Durmaz, Kallstrom, Ekdal, Forsberg; Ibrahimovic, Berg


Betting Verdict: Draw (2/1)
Ireland are a hardworking team that can be very difficult to beat. The fact that world champions Germany failed to beat them twice in qualifying justifies that statement. Sweden are, with the exception of Zlatan, a limited team, and even their captain is capable of an off-day. A tight affair is expected and the draw looks likely.

Written by Chadley Nagel.