International Football Betting: Sweden v England Preview


Sweden 2.40  The Draw 3.20  England 2.85

This match might be taking place for ceremonial reasons, but the grand unveiling of Sweden's new Friends Arena stadium will also provide England boss Roy Hodgson with a progress report on his side before a three month break in the international schedule.

Sweden, meanwhile, go into the game as favourites thanks to their tremendous record at home, and will be extra motivated to right the perceived wrong from the last time these nations met, in Ukraine at Euro 2012.  

Team News

England are hardly at full strength, but will be able to field an impressive, if experimental, first XI in Stockholm. The team will likely boast a Merseyside core, with captain Steven Gerrard certain to play and his clubmate Raheem Sterling likely to make his debut, while there will be an Everton trio of Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines - who will deputise for injured Ashley Cole at left back - and another debutante Leon Osman, who can be backed at 5.00 to score at any time.

Sweden will have a familiar look about them, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic (4.75 to score first) leading the line and a consortium of bright midfield players in support. Among them will be Sunderland's set-piece specialist Sebastian Larsson, who is a good bet to score at any time at 4.00. Elsewhere, watch out for Alex Kacaniklic, the exciting young winger from Fulham, who adds a little sparkle to the Swedes' functionality. He will be keen to impress his home crowd after a glistening start to the season at Craven Cottage, and can be backed at 15.00 to notch the first goal at the new ground.

Head-to-Head:

Historically, these two sides have met 23 times, with England narrowly coming out on top (eight victories) while Sweden have won six and there have been nine draws. In recent years, however, the Swedes have proved to be something of a bogie team for the Three Lions. The sides drew at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, and those of a certain age will remember a Tomas Brolin-inspired Sweden famously dumping Graeme Taylor's England out of Euro '92.   

Furthermore, it's worth noting England have not won in Sweden since 1965 and have been beaten by the odd goal on five of their last six visits to the Scandinvan country. You can back Sweden to draw on the -1 handicap at 3.90. 

Form:

England's 1-1 draw in Poland last time out was disappointing, but might yet prove to be a decent result in the context of their World Cup 2014 qualifying group. The rain-drenched Warsaw draw came after a solid victory over San Marino, and the team are still yet to lose in 90 minutes under Roy Hodgson's stewardship.

Sweden will be buouyed by an impressive recent run of results under Erik Hamren. They are also unbeaten in their last five and showed an almighty level of determination and belief in their 4-4 draw away in Germany last month, battling back from 0-4 down to snatch a point courstesy of Rasmus Elm's stoppage time equaliser. 

Verdict

There's not a great deal to split these two sides, both of which are hard to beat, but neither of which will run away with it. England will start sharp and probably take the lead. But Roy Hodgson's men do tend to experience a perennial second half lull, which combined with Sweden's own tradition of coming out stronger after the interval, means a bet of half time England/Full time draw (2/X) at 16.00 could prove shrewd. 

Sweden have a formidable home record, and will have two added elements of motivation: one being to mark the opening of the new stadium with a victory, and the other being their quest to avenge the dramatic Euro 2012 loss in June, when Danny Welbeck's late flick gave England a 3-2 victory. The United man is trading around  6.00 to have the final say again.    

Score Prediction:

Sweden 1-1 England at 6.25.