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Scandinavian scuffle: Sweden v Denmark player battles

Holly Thackeray | November 11, 2015

Sweden and Denmark in Euro 2016 play-off dust-up

Every football fan loves a feisty regional rivalry and, though both countries may be renowned for cool and collected dispositions, there is much at stake in the upcoming Scandinavian show-down between neighbours Sweden and Denmark.

A place in the Euro 2016 finals is up for grabs, after both Nordic nations failed to successfully navigate their groups. As two of the best-placed third finishers they must now tussle for a spot in France as well as local bragging rights.

So, ahead of the upcoming clash, Coral experts contemplate where on the field the first-leg will be won and lost, with five key player battles. Read on to find out why sinking the Swedes in Stockholm may be a bridge too far for the Danes…

Andreas Isaksson v Nicklas Bentdner

Sweden Portugal Wcup Soccer
Veteran stopper Isaksson, formerly of Juventus and Manchester City fame, has kept two clean sheets for the Swedes in as many of their last matches.

Can he keep a third? The Blue-Yellow are great value at 5/2 to win to nil, considering much-maligned ex-Arsenal marksman Bentdner will likely lead the attack. Denmark have grabbed just one goal in their last five games, with the current Wolfsburg forward drawing blanks since March. We’ll give Isaksson the benefit of the doubt in this battle.

Mikael Lustig v Christian Eriksen

Soccer - International Friendly - Denmark v France - Parken Stadion
Celtic right back Lustig quietly goes about his business at Celtic Park, but will face undoubted quality in Ajax graduate Eriksen, who should really test the full back’s mettle.

While the Tottenham playmaker has been largely deployed on the left for his nation of late, Lustig will have to be smart to prevent the dangerous Dane from drifting inside to play that killer pass or score a trademark late goal.

With four assists and two strikes in nine Premier League outings this season so far, much of Denmark’s hopes of denting the Swedish defence rests on Eriksen’s shoulders and the schemer is 10/3 to be on target anytime.

Oscar Lewicki v Michael Krohn-Dehli

Soccer - UEFA European Under-21 Championship - Final - Sweden v Portugal - Eden Stadium
With engine room influence Albin Ekdal injured, young-gun Lewicki was thrown into the fray last time out and will expect to keep his defence-shielding spot again.

Composure will be needed for the former Bayern Munich midfielder, 23, who has just six caps. Key to Swedish success will be Lewicki’s ability to marshal a congested midfield, in which experienced Sevilla plotter Krohn-Dehli will expect licence to roam. Though the Malmo-born battler has spades of exuberance which could see him edge Denmark’s attack.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic v Kasper Schmeichel

Sweden Portugal Wcup Soccer
There’s usually only one winner when Sweden skipper and superstar Ibrahimovic (10/3 to fire the opener) sets his sights on goal, as England fans can attest. The acrobatic frontman is still a formidable force at 34 and is showing no signs of slowing, breaking PSG’s all-time scorer record with ease while also bagging five in his last five for the Blue-Yellow.

Meanwhile, Denmark goalie Schmeichel obviously inherited some of his dad’s talent, but the flexible post protector has kept just one clean sheet all campaign at club-level for Leicester City, and his Danish defence may be no stronger against this in-form and ferocious forward.

John Guidetti v Daniel Agger

Soccer Euro 2012 Denmark Germany
Erik Hamren experimented with two up top recently, with ex-Celtic and Manchester City goal threat Guidetti the beneficiary last time out against minnows Moldova.

Though, should he get the nod to stretch Denmark alongside Ibrahimovic again, Guidetti would be up against a backline enforcer in Agger much more capable than his Moldovan counterparts.

For all their flaws in attack, the Danes are sturdy in defence, shutting out opponents in three of their past five outings, so the young striker could find avenues to goal firmly closed.

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