Euro 2016 Group E: Italy to grind out glory against stubborn Sweden
Holly Thackeray | June 15, 2016
Italy v Sweden
- Euro 2016 Group E
- Friday, June 17th
- Kick-off: 14:00 BST
- Stadium Municipal, Toulouse
- Live on ITV
Can Conte now put Italy on the front foot?
Having already bettered Belgium in their opening Euro 2016 Group E game, Italy will now have their eyes on the pool summit prize, with Sweden next in Antonio Conte’s sights as the Azzurri prepare for a tussle in Toulouse.
In 22 previous meetings, the Italians have excelled with 10 triumphs, while the Swedes have tasted success only as many times as they have split the spoils (six), which all makes for a rather convincing case to back Italy odds-on at 8/11 with Coral for all three points.
Conte’s crew certainly put in a full shift last time out against favourites Belgium, barely allowing their opponents to rest on the ball, and when allowing them to dominate possession rendering the Red Devils impotent in attack with their organised defending and team ethic.
There were also flashes of fantastic forward play, particularly with the wing backs pushing up, and two sublime finishes. Yet, can Italy assert themselves if Sweden sit back? With these two tactically-minded nations, a draw is 12/5 to unfold.
Recent rumbles between these Pool E peers have been tight to say the least, the Azzurri winning by a one goal margin (an appealing 23/10 to occur again) in three of the last four frays with this Scandinavian side, and the other encounter ending evenly. Thus, an Italian triumph and under 2.5 goals in the game is worth grabbing at 23/10, while a clean sheet for Conte is 21/20 after such a stout rearguard resistance in Lyon.
Staunch Swedes must show improvement
Sweden lacked sparkle against the Republic of Ireland, yet still managed to pinch a point despite under-performing, thanks to a moment of Zlatan Ibrahimovic inspiration and a Ciaran Clark folly.
The Blue-Yellow still look the most unlikely side to come through this competitive group unscathed though, and will have one nervous eye on Saturday’s subsequent scuffle between Belgium and the Irish. A draw or a loss to Italy would be hugely damaging for Erik Hamren’s men with their final duel versus the Red Devils, but a victory at 9/2 is unconvincing.
Another blow to the Swedes is Celtic right back Mikael Lustig’s injury doubt, leaving the Nordic nation exposed at the back due to a lack of natural options in his berth.
Fellow full back and recently relegated Norwich City defender Martin Olsson spoke of the need for Swedish improvement, stating: “The first half wasn’t like us and we have to try to improve for the next game. We need to keep the ball a bit better, getting on the ball and moving for each other. Every game is important. We had a big chance to get three points.”
Olsson is a 12/1 anytime scorer shout, with another Premier League player in Sunderland’s Sebastian Larsson 8/1. Yet, as usual, it really is all about Ibrahimovic.
The towering Sweden striker will be striving to make a difference again and is 6/4 to get on the scoresheet, or an appealing 11/2 for the final say, having been the last to score against Italy for Sweden in 2004.
Pelle putting himself in shop window?
As for Italy, their opening Euro 2016 goal came from an unexpected source in Mackems midfield outcast Emanuele Giaccherini (4/1 to add another anytime), though the creativity all came from centre back Leonardo Bonucci’s masterful pass.
It was another diligent defender that last punctured Swedish hopes, however, as Juventus stalwart Giorgio Chiellini grabbed the winner when these teams last met and is 12/1 to prove a threat again.
While, Southampton striker Graziano Pelle certainly put himself in the summer shopping window after bagging a brilliant volley versus Belgium, as understandable links to joining former Saints coach Ronald Koeman at Everton begin.
The talented poacher is 4/1 to open the scoring, or even-money anytime, with alert partner up top Eder Citadin Martins a superb 6/4 to reap his rewards after a menacing Euro bow. Alternatively, Antonio Candreva is available at 11/4 to see one of his cracking attempts on goal come off.
Don’t forget Italy and Conte fans, meanwhile, that you can check out the coach’s first Premier League fixtures as Chelsea boss, as the season’s list was recently announced.
What does Coral football ambassador Alan Shearer think ahead of Italy versus Sweden? Listen to his thoughts below.
Coral’s top tip: Italy to win and under 2.5 goals in the game is an excellent 23/10.