GAVIN HORSFALL (@GHorsfall) runs the rule over Wednesday night’s Group E concluder between Sweden and Belgium.
Sweden v Belgium | Wednesday 20.00 | ITV4
The longer this tournament plays out in front of us, the stronger the formlines become.
Take Sweden for example; part of the furniture every four years at past European Championships but all of a sudden finishing third in Group F behind Austria and Russia, from whom they took just two points in four games, doesn’t look all that impressive given those sides performances over the past 10 days.
Even that spirited opening display against the Irish looks a standard below what’s required given Belgium’s 3-0 demolition of that opponent at the weekend.
Just two games in but I feel like we’ve been through the emotional washer with Belgium already, a generation of underacheivers against Italy, ready to fulfill potential after seeing off Ireland, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
But Belgium should have more than enough for Erik Hamren’s side here. In fact, a fast start for Belgium and the match runs the risk of turning into an extended lap of honour for Zlatan Ibrahimovic who could be pulling on the yellow shirt for the last time.
Sweden’s soft centre was exploited by Italy and it could be again by a Belgium midfield bristling with talent. Albin Ekdal came in for Oscar Lewicki in that reverse to Italy but it didn’t look any better while Kim Kallstrom just looks a bit tired (it’s happening to us all Kim) and isn’t the box-to-box midfielder Sweden need.
I’ve been mightily impressed by Alex Witsel in the middle for Belgium, who got the goal his performances deserved against Ireland. His intelligent positioning should see him have plenty of the ball through the centre and rates a decent price to notch again at 7/1 (Betfred).
Sweden conceded from four penalties during qualification which sounds high. Belgium are 15/2 to do the same here and looks a runner if they move the ball quickly in the final third.
Sweden v Belgium – Alex Witsel to score at anytime (7/1 Betfred)
Sweden v Belgium – Belgium to score a penalty (15/2 Paddy Power)