Republic of Ireland v Sweden
Tuesday June 14, 2:00am
Sandwiched between games featuring Spain and then Belgium versus Italy is this lower key affair. With two very difficult games to follow for these teams if they want to qualify for the knockouts one team will surely have to win here.
Both these teams qualified after winning play-off matches and look to have a tough task in reaching the next round. There’s a big gap between these two and the other two in the group but in this game they should find themselves pretty closely matched.
Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland scored just eight times in their eight qualifiers, excluding the matches against Gibraltar, so their tactics look clear. Including their play-off matches against Bosnia (and excluding the matches against Gibraltar) nine of their 10 qualifying matches had fewer than three goals.
The relatively negative approach of this Irish side means they see plenty of draws and since 2011 they’ve finished level in six of their 10 games against teams ranked within 10 places of them while winning only once.
Sweden can boast one of the superstars of world football in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and having scored 50 goals for PSG last season he’s in great form.
The problem for Zlatan is that there isn’t a lot of support for him. Since 2013 Sweden have slipped from 13th in our world rankings down to their current 29th and in this time they’ve won just three of 14 matches against teams that were within 10 rankings positions of them while losing eight times.
They’ve kept just one clean sheet in those matches and half have had at least three goals. However, against this Ireland side we’d definitely be leaning more towards a low scoring affair and eight of Sweden’s 10 group qualifiers had fewer than three goals, although both play-off matches against Denmark saw at least three strikes.
There have been a couple of recent meetings between these teams as they were in the same qualifying group for the last World Cup and those games finished 0-0 in Sweden and in a 2-1 win for the Swedes in Ireland. That suggests Sweden have a slight edge but it’s not much of one and if Martin O’Neill’s side can find a way to stop Ibrahimovic they should at least pick up a draw so we’d just about prefer to be on the outsiders at 2.15 in the Draw No Bet.
We’d definitely keep the draw on our side though and were it not for the fact that both teams need to try and win this match the draw would probably be the best selection in this match. However, we prefer the half-time draw here for that fact and that can be backed at 2.00. Meanwhile in the goals markets Under 1.5 looks a good price at 2.75.
BACK – Half-Time Draw at 2.00