Sweden vs. Slovakia Betting Odds, Pick, Prediction: Take the Favorite in Euro 2020 Group Play (June 18)
Marcelo Del Pozo – Pool/Getty Images. Pictured: Sweden standout Alexander Isak.
- Sweden and Slovakia look to build upon solid debut performances when they face each other in Friday's Group E action.
- The Swedes fought their way to a scoreless draw against Spain in their opener, while Slovakia earned a 2-1 upset win over Poland.
- Anthony Dabbundo analyzes the match below and details why he likes Sweden to take all three points.
Sweden vs. Slovakia Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (+135 / -165)|
|Day | Time||Friday | 9 a.m. ET|
|Odds updated Thursday morning via DraftKings.|
Sweden and Slovakia picked up surprising results in the first group matches of Euro 2020, with Sweden stealing a point in a goalless draw with Spain and Slovakia earning a 2-1 upset win over Poland in its opener.
The result is both teams being in improved positions to qualify for the knockout stage after one group match, and Slovakia even leading the quartet thus far. Sweden has two players returning from COVID-19 isolation, including attacker Dejan Kulusevski and midfielder Marcus Svanberg.
The Swedes, best known for their defense, should be on the front foot in this match and sit undervalued to take all three points against a Slovakia side that was fortunate to win and punched above its weight thus far.
Sweden’s Tactical Approach Kept Spain in Check
Sweden’s game plan was clear from the opening minutes against Spain on Monday in Seville. The Swedes sat deep with nine, sometimes 10 players behind the ball and forced the Spanish players to try and pass their way through the low block. Spain poked, prodded and created chances, but poor finishing and excellent goalkeeping from Robin Olsen kept it off the board.
Only twice was Sweden able to string together coherent attacks, and it was solely through the feet of budding forward Alexander Isak. He dusted two Spanish center backs in the penalty area before his shot was cleared off the line and into the post.
On another chance, Isak squared a pass to Marcus Berg, who missed an open net — the best chance created by either team according to expected goals. Sweden played that game without fellow forward Dejan Kulusevski, but he has returned to training. While Isak is the shot getter and the one often on the end of chances, Kulusevski is elite at running at defenses with the ball at his feet.
Add in attacking playmaker Emil Forsberg, who will have more time to get on the ball and pull some strings and play some passes against Slovakia, and Sweden’s offense should be formidable.
Slovakia Makes Most of Opportunities Against Poland
While Sweden was outplayed by Spain and as fortunate to get a draw, Slovakia was also outplayed by Poland. The Slovaks grabbed an early goal on a great bit of individual skill from Robert Mak and some poor goalkeeping from Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny.
Slovakia adjusted well to the Poles’ possession structures and was able to counteract it, then counterattack it relatively effectively in the match.
Even despite this, though, Poland equalized in the second half and had regained total control of the match when Grzegorz Krychowiak was sent off and Poland finished the match with 10 men.
Slovakia benefitted from multiple Poland mistakes to win, with those errors far less likely to happen with this Swedish side. It had three passes into the penalty area and four carries into it. Slovakia also only managed one cross into the area. That’s not good attacking output and the Slovaks didn’t stop 14 passes from coming into their own area.
They lost the expected-goals battle by a full goal, and while there tends to be variance at these international tournaments, I’m not sure how Slovakia consistently creates chances.
Betting Analysis & Pick
Sweden is a better team than Poland, yet the three-way money line is almost exactly the same as it was for Slovakia’s opening game.
As bad as Sweden’s attacking numbers were against Spain, that was a game-plan choice and a credit to Spain that Sweden did so little possessing of the ball.
This game will be totally different, and Sweden’s experience in major tournaments, cohesive 4-4-2 formation and defensive solidity should shine through. This could be the game where Isak and Kulusevski introduce themselves to an international audience and show Sweden has two young attacking stars for the future.
The Swedes should take all three points and secure their spot in the knockout stage.
Pick: Sweden ML (-135 or better)