| November 21, 2017
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Euro 2016 preview Italy vs Sweden: Master class Italian defense eyeing to stop Zlatan

Euro 2016 preview Italy vs Sweden: Master class Italian defense eyeing to stop Zlatan
PARIS, June17: Italy kicked off the tournament with unexpected victory over star loaded Belgium, scoring two comfortable goals. Antonio Conte's side played to their strength, solid defensive balance, against the team, which is full of world class attackers. The current Azzurri team may not be as talented as many of their predecessors but they are, crucially, all pulling in the same direction. Sweden labored to a disappointing draw with the Republic of Ireland, tonight their key man Zlatan Ibrahimovic to stand up and be counted, but rest of the team also needs to be in form and create chances for their captain if they want precious three points.

Team News

Italy

Italy A win against Sweden will be enough to ensure that Italy progress to the last 16 of the competition, Antonio Conte likely to go with same eleven expecting same level of performance they showed last week. Graziano Pelle who scored fantastic goal against Belgium dislocated his finger in the same game is available for selection despite missing training. Head coach Conte likely to continue same 3-5-2 formation, with Rossi and Giaccherini in central midfield behind two forwards Pelle and Eder. However a caution for Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Eder and Thiago Motta, would see anyone of that quartet miss the final group game for the Azzurri, after picking up bookings against Belgium.

 

Likely playing XI: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Candreva, Florenzi, De Rossi, Giaccherini, De Sciglio; Pellè, Éder

 

Sweden

Sweden Right back Mikael Lustig was forced to leave the pitch in the draw with Ireland and the Celtic man is expected to miss out, as he continues to nurse a groin injury. FC Copenhagen defender Erik Johansson is expected to come in to replace right back Lustig, while Victor Lindelof is capable of playing in that position. Coach Erik Hamren likely to pick young Guidetti in second striker role to play alongside danger man Zlatan.

 

Likely playing XI: Isaksson; Lindelöf, Granqvist, Johansson, Olsson; Larsson, Ekdal, Källström, Forsberg; Guidetti, Ibrahimović

 

Coach quotes

Antonio Conte, "Italy I think I have a group of lads who are very focused and determined, and who take pride in doing things well. I'm certain that one single game will not change the attitude of these lads. I'm convinced of this. It was a good performance against Belgium and we made the best start to UEFA EURO 2016, but we've not done anything yet, nor have we already qualified for the last 16, which is our first objective. We have our feet firmly on the ground, preparing for tomorrow's game and looking for the win."

Erik Hamrén, "Sweden Italy perhaps doesn't have the big stars they used to, but they are still very strong. They are very good in defence and in attack and they were impressive against Belgium. They are going to be a tough challenge for us, but we're looking forward to it. Anything is possible in football."

Head to head

-The Republic of Ireland have won three of 10 matches against Sweden, losing five of those games.

-They are winless in six competitive encounters with the Swedes (D2, L4), although none of those games were at major tournaments.

-The teams met in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. They drew 0-0 in Solna before Sweden won 2-1 in Dublin.

-Sweden have failed to score in three of their last four games against the Republic of Ireland.

Some notable facts

-Italy are unbeaten in 11 competitive games under Antonio Conte (W8, D3). Their last defeat came against Uruguay at the 2014 World Cup under Cesare Prandelli.

-Italy have never scored more than two goals in their 34 games at European Championship finals.

-The Azzurri have kept three successive clean sheets. A fourth shut-out would be their best run since a four-match streak during the 2006 World Cup (which they went on to win). -Sweden have only won three of their last 15 games at the European Championship (D5, L7).

-The Swedes drew 1-1 against the Republic of Ireland despite not having a single shot on target.

-Zlatan Ibrahimovic can become the first player to score at four different European Championships. He has six goals in 11 matches so far- including one against Italy at Euro 2004.