Wales and Sweden to split spoils as Bale and Zlatan set for showdown
Holly Thackeray | June 3, 2016
Sweden v Wales
- International friendly
- Sunday, June 5th
- Kick-off: 15:00 BST
- Friends Arena, Stockholm County
- Live on Premier Sports
King Ibrahimovic angling to crown warm-up campaign
Before their first major tournament finals for over 50 years, Home Nation heroes Wales (3/1 to be victorious) are seeking one last warm-up hurrah against Sweden, with both teams requiring a return to form after recent post-Euro 2016 qualification slumps.
Chris Coleman’s Dragons have swooped to success just once in their past six scuffles, with Wales’ one win arriving against minnows Andorra. While, the Swedes (odds-on 19/20 favourites) similarly also only boast one victory in their last six dust-ups. So, with two draws from their previous six match-ups, and both sides attempting to shake off the rust in the run up to France but still aiming to avoid injury, a 23/10 draw with Coral is the most tempting result.
What else these two teams have in common, aside from astute defences, is accusations of being one-man outfits, and building their play around a single superstar.
For hosts Sweden that talisman is headline hogging hitman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is still to decide on his club destination for next campaign. The towering Swede was reportedly jokingly (we assume) offered several awesome incentives to join German fourth-tier club Rot-Weiss Oberhausen, including to become head of a new city monarchy, unlimited swimming pool access and a beer named in his honour.
With 11 goals from as many of his last internationals Ibrahimovic, rested recently, is 11/4 for the first goal and, as the marksman has a taste for braces, is also 5/2 for a double or more. Fellow forwards Marcus Berg and John Guidetti are 7/4 and 11/5 to chip in anytime with goals respectively.
Bale to bring back Wales brilliance?
There is also a welcome reprieve for Wales in the form of flying Real Madrid wingman Gareth Bale’s mooted return, fresh from his second Champions League triumph and finally back in first-team training to rev-up the Dragons danger levels.
Coach Chris Coleman said of his leading scorer in qualifying: “We’ll see how the trip to Stockholm is physically and mentally before we decide whether he starts or comes on.
“We haven’t had Gareth since the Andorra game [in October] which seems like a long time now,” confirmed Coleman, which curiously coincides with his contingent’s last victory.
Bale is a brilliant bet at 5/1 for the final goal after eight in his past 11 caps, or a reasonable 5/4 in the anytime market.
Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen, meanwhile, will miss the match through injury alongside speedster Hal Robson-Kanu, but Aaron Ramsey (14/5 for a strike anytime) could feature, though the Arsenal man did not take part in full training. These absences could give the likes of striker Sam Vokes (2/1) a chance to shine in Sweden.
But, the main narrative, as expected will be Ibrahimovic v Bale, with Wales defender James Chester telling press: “To have the ability of both of them on the same pitch, it will make for a real spectacle.”
Coral’s top tip: Back Ibrahimovic at 11/4 for the first goal in Sweden.