Euro 2016 betting: Sweden expected to edge the Republic of Ireland & Zlatan to break another recordPublished June 13, 2016
Unlike most other teams in the lead up to Euro 2016, the Republic of Ireland decided to focus more on training than competitive friendly fixtures over the last two weeks. Since they qualified via the playoffs where they beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-1 on aggregate, they played four times. However, the fact that they only won once and that was back in March against Switzerland means that they travel to France with no recent memory of victory to spur them on.
However, on the positive side perhaps this strategy has allowed some of their injured players time to recuperate. Martin O’Neill expects to have Robbie Keane and James McCarthy available. The LA Galaxy striker and Everton midfielder have been suffering from respective calf and hamstring injuries but made it through training on Saturday. Another worry was Stoke’s Jonathan Walters but he returned to full training on Saturday as well following an Achilles problem.
With Keane only just returning to training, and perhaps lacking match fitness, Shane Long is expected to lead the line.
Few people need an introduction to the player leading the line for Sweden. For a generation now, the first name people associate with Sweden is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. If he scores against the Irish then he will once again enter the history books as the first ever player to score in four European Championships. And he could not be in hotter form.
Zlatan has just finished his final season in the French League scoring a career-high 50 goals for Paris St. Germain, as he looks to move on with England touted as his next possible league to shine in.
Sweden did play friendlies in the lead up to the tournament, beating Wales at home just over a week ago. However, they only won two of their other five friendlies since they also qualified by the play-offs with Denmark 4-3 on aggregate, drawing the other three.
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