Euro 2016 Group E: Defiant Ireland can hold Ibrahimovic-led Sweden in opening encounter
Lee Gormley | June 10, 2016
Republic of Ireland v Sweden
- Euro 2016 Group E
- Monday, June 13th
- Kick-off: 17:00 BST
- Stade de France, Saint-Denis
- Live on BBC
Irish tackle Swedes in Group E opener
Having battled through the play-offs to qualify for Euro 2016, Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland have taken their deserved spot in France and will begin their Group E campaign at the Stade de France on Monday night, as they come up against Sweden.
These two nations could have been drawn against each other at the play-off stage last year, but instead the Irish overcame their tie with Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Erik Hamren’s Swedes toppled Denmark to reach their fifth European Championship.
It’s Sweden that have prevailed on five occasions from 10 previous meetings with the Boys in Green, with Ireland securing three wins and holding their opening opponents to two draws. Another sharing of the spoils here is 2/1 with Coral to occur, while O’Neill’s Emerald Isle are 23/10 to triumph.
Their foes have a potential ace in the pack though with Manchester United target Zlatan Ibrahimovic set to lead their line, following a sublime final season with PSG, and they are 7/5 to secure three points in their opening encounter.
Zlatan key to Sweden success
Departing Parisians frontman Ibrahimovic is ending his illustrious four-year stay with the French capital club following this past season, in which he racked up an incredible 50 goals for club and country, and he will be the Ireland rearguard’s biggest worry.
The all-time Sweden goalscorer is 7/2 to open proceedings in the country which he has risen to prominence in the latter stages of his career, while the 34-year-old is also 4/1 to bag a brace or more after doing so on 13 occasions in the term gone by.
Alongside him in attack former Celtic and current Celta Vigo striker John Guidetti is 2/1 to get on the scoresheet anytime, while Panathinaikos poacher Marcus Berg and Sunderland wideman Sebastian Larsson are 7/4 and 6/1 respectively to strike.
Long leading Irish attacking threats
Southampton forward Shane Long enjoyed a great campaign at St Mary’s and during qualifying, with his memorable winner over world champions and Euro 2016 hopefuls Germany in Dublin last year being the highlight of his heroics.
The Premier League ace is therefore 6/4 to find the target anytime for the Boys in Green and 11/2 to net last in St-Denis, having become an integral component in O’Neill’s set-up. Fellow forward and the Irish nation’s Player of the Year Jonathan Walters is 15/8 to dispatch, as he battles back from a recent knock.
All-time Ireland scorer Robbie Keane was the last player to score for his country in this fixture back in a World Cup qualifier three years ago, and the veteran LA Galaxy poacher is 2/1 to tuck home again, with Norwich City duo Wes Hoolahan and Robbie Brady 4/1 and 5/1 respectively for success in front goal.
The Boys in Green ended qualifying with the best defensive record in their group, while Sweden could only end as third top scorers in their standings, meaning a goalless stalemate in this Group E encounter is 6/1 to happen.
Both nations will want a strong first outing though in what is a seemingly testing group, and O’Neill’s Irish proved in the build-up to the France finals that they are more than capable of mixing it with the big boys.
What does Coral football ambassador Alan Shearer think ahead of this game? Here are his thoughts on the Republic of Ireland v Sweden:
Coral’s top tip: Back Shane Long to score anytime for Ireland against Sweden at 6/4.