Sweden will be hoping they can improve on their performances of recent times in major tournaments. Since 2006 Sweden have not reached the World Cup finals and their European Championship record is not too much better, as they have never qualified from the group stages since 2004, this will have to significantly improve if Sweden are to stand any chance of progressing through the very competitive Group E at Euro 2016.
Undoubtedly Sweden's biggest asset is Zlatan Ibrahimovic and he is the man they will be hoping can produce the goods in France. An average of over 1 goal in every 2 games speaks for itself and the Captain will be hoping to add to his impressive stats when the tournament kicks off in June, however, it is not the attacking options that let this side down. During qualification Sweden won 5 out of there 10 games, not too shabby but when you take into account 6 of these games were against such teams as Montenegro, Lichtenstein and Moldova, the record does not look as commendable.
Another negative coming into Euro 2016 is that the Swedes only scraped qualification via a 4-3 aggregate win against Denmark in the play-offs, which again shows their short comings, only beating a side ranked 42 in the world by a single goal with arguably one of the greatest strikers of their generation at their disposal. If we were to be positive for the Swedish camp, then the group that awaits in France does not include any standout sides and it would have to be argued that Sweden can beat any of Italy, Belgium or Ireland on their day but they will have to put their best foot forward in all 3 fixtures and this may be a bridge too far for this side.
Sweden struggled through qualifying and will have to improve ten fold if they are to make an impact at Euro 2016. Their main hopes will be firmly on the hefty shoulders of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but unfortunately he has not been able to fire in recent international tournaments for his country and at the ripe old age of 34, his best chances of taking this team forward are in the past.
Another reason Sweden will surely struggle is that Group E contains world ranked no.2 side Belgium and 4 times World Cup winners Italy, this will mean that Sweden may have to take points from both of these sides if they are to advance through, and this does seem doubtful considering the lack of squad depth. Realistically Sweden will need one of the aforementioned sides to under perform drastically in France and judging by their recent performances it does not look likely.
|England||1996||Did not qualify||-|
|Belgium / Netherlands||2000||Group Stage||14|
|Austria / Switzerland||2008||Group Stage||10|
|Poland / Ukraine||2012||Group Stage||11|
In recent years, Sweden have at least qualified for the European Championships, however a best placed Semi-final finish on home soil in 1992 seems an awful long time ago. More recently they've tended to exit with a whimper in the Group Stages. It's hard to envisage anything but another Group Stage exit at Euro 2016 unless the big man Ibrahimovic can produce something special.
|3||Rep of Ireland||3||1||1||1||2||4||4|
|13.06.16||17.00||Rep of Ireland||1 - 1||Sweden|
|13.06.16||20.00||Belgium||0 - 2||Italy|
|17.06.16||14.00||Italy||1 - 0||Sweden|
|18.06.16||14.00||Belgium||3 - 0||Rep of Ireland|
|22.06.16||20.00||Italy||0 - 1||Rep of Ireland|
|22.06.16||20.00||Sweden||0 - 1||Belgium|
Sweden will be the lowest ranked side in their group and will have it all to do in France if they are to escape the early stages of Euro 2016. They have been drawn in Group E against Italy, Belgium and Ireland which is a very tricky draw as 2 of these sides could realistically win the tournament and are expected to occupy the two automatic qualifying places.
These sides are Italy and Belgium and it would be a huge shock if they were not 1st and 2nd in the group in whatever order as they seem to be head and shoulders above both of the other 2 sides. This would mean that Sweden's only other outlet for points would be the game against the Republic of Ireland on the 13th June, this is very winnable and may need to be if Sweden are to hold any chance of surviving the group stages.
As is the case at Euro 2016 the top 4 ranked 3rd place finishing teams will also get through to the last 16 and Sweden may just manage that if they can produce a victory against Ireland. It would mean they are dependent on teams in the other groups but 3 points may well be enough to see them through...maybe.
Here's a list of the 4 teams drawn in Group E and their FIFA World Ranking, as you can see, Belgium are by far the highest ranked team, with Sweden ranked at no.36 in the world, the lowest ranked team in Group E, even worse than Republic of Ireland.
With an impressive 11 goal haul during qualifying, Zlatan Ibrahimovic must surely be nailed on to be Sweden's top goalscorer and is definitely in the running as a lively Golden Boot contender. Midfield maestro Erkan Zengin also netted 3 times during qualification along Marcus Berg who scored twice.
|Ola Toivonen||29||Midfield / Forward||1|
Sweden are one of the sides at Euro 2016 who are fancied to exit very early on. As mentioned earlier, the elite sides in their group should have far too much quality for this team who only reached France via the play-offs and have a severe lack of quality compared to the other teams going to the Euro's. If they do as expected and lose both games against Italy and Belgium it would leave only 1 game for Sweden to gain points from and that would be on the 13th June against Ireland in their opening group fixture.
These two sides are very well matched as both qualified via the play-offs and a result either way would not be a surprise, if Sweden could get an unlikely 3 points against Republic of Ireland, then they may qualify as one of the top 4 3rd place sides, but even this may be beyond them and a single point finish is the most probable outcome for this team.
By far the biggest threat in this Swedish side is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The super striker regularly has to deal with the pressures of leading his nation, and has up to now not been able to produce on the big stage. Looking through his record you can see that while he has scored 62 goals for his national side, only 6 of them have been at major international tournaments which is extremely poor considering he has a career that has lasted over 14 years. He is now 34 and probably past his best but is still Sweden's most influential player and as Captain he will be hoping he can inspire Sweden at Euro 2016 in what probably will be his international football swan song.
Sweden are predominantly a side who's first thought is defence. They do not have a free flowing style of play but usually try to play wide using their full backs to create width and get crosses into the box. The Midfield of Sweden is made up of 2 defensive midfielder's who tend to cover the defence, as in most matches they find themselves without the ball for most of the game.
Their goals come mostly from Ibrahimovic and they do seem very reliant on the big man up front to produce something special. As you would expect with a 6ft 5 inch striker, Sweden tend to play the long ball and pick their number 10 out from some distance, this may be an advantage in this tournament as Sweden will expect to have less of the ball and a direct style may relieve some of the pressure that there defence is sure to come under.