Sweden vs Slovakia: Can Swedes find some silk to compliment their steel?

You could probably say Sweden 'did a job' against Spain in their opening match, but do they have the quality to play on the front foot?

When: Friday June 18, 14:00 BST

Where: St Petersburg

How to watch: BBC

Best Bets

Milan Skriniar to score anytime at 10/1

Sweden half-time/Draw full-time at 14/1

Sebastian Larsson to assist a goal at 9/2

Sweden and Slovakia both have a good chance to make serious inroads at Euro 2020 when they meet in St Petersburg.

Slovakia earned a super win over Poland in their opening match of the tournament, while Sweden stubbornly held Spain to a dogged draw in theirs.

That means both sides are realistically just one win away from the round of 16, and both will fancy their chances of getting it with a game to spare.

Previous three meetings

Sweden 1-1 Slovakia (Friendly - October 16, 2018)

Sweden have never lost an international match against Slovakia, although they also couldn't beat them the last time they met.

Former Manchester City striker John Guidetti fired the Swedes ahead in the second half, and it looked like that would be enough.

However, Slovakia refused to lie down, and they got their reward six minutes from time when Albert Rusnak earned them a draw.

Sweden 6-0 Slovakia (Friendly - January 12, 2017)

This match actually took place in Abu Dhabi, and it's probably fair to say that Sweden adjusted to the desert conditions a little better that Slovakia.

While it ended up a rout, the first half was actually deceptively tight. Alexander Isak scored for what was a young and largely experimental Swedish side in the 19th minute, but it wasn't until the second half when things really opened up.

Like Sweden, Slovakia fielded a team stripped of their big name stars from the big European leagues, which means this match carries little analytical value.

However, a Sebastian Andersson brace as well as goals from David Moberg Karlsson, Per Frick, and Saman Ghoddos sure made it a fun 45 minutes for Sweden.

Sweden 2-0 Slovakia (Qualifier - June 2, 2001)

When these sides met as part of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, there is little doubt that Sweden were the much stronger side.

Slovakia were still in the infancy as far as being an independent nation was concerned, and Sweden were the well-drilled dogs of war that, frankly, they still are today. Just ask Spain.

On this occasion, a brace from former Aston Villa man Marcus Alberg either side of half time made for a routine win for the hosts.

Do Sweden have any tricks up their sleeve?

You can't criticise Sweden for their defensive football against Spain, and in fact you have to admire the execution.

Sweden, though, have been making things difficult for teams at international tournaments for decades. It's why no one ever wants them in their group.

However, the big question is whether this team has the firepower to actually hurt their opposition?

For all Sweden's workmanlike efficiency in the past, they have also had a Henrik Larsson or Zlatan Ibrahimovic to provide some cutting edge.

At first glance, this team doesn't and so someone will have to step up and deliver if they are going to get out of this group.

Sweden squad

Goalkeepers: Karl-Johan Johnsson, Kristoffer Nordfeldt, Robin Olsen

Defenders: Emil Krafth, Victor Lindelof, Marcus Danielson, Martin Olsson, Ludwig Augustinsson, Pontus Jansson, Filip Helander, Mikael Lustig, Andreas Granqvist

Midfielders: Emil Forsberg, Ken Sema, Viktor Claesson, Dejan Kulusevski, Sebastian Larsson, Albin Ekdal, Kristoffer Olsson, Jens-Lys Cajuste, Mattias Svanberg, Gustav Svensson

Forwards: Marcus Berg, Alexander Isak, Robin Quaison, Jordan Larsson

Did Poland underestimate Slovakia?

There was quite a bit of surprise levelled at Slovakia's win over Poland in their first game from fans and media.

The question is, though, did Poland underestimate Slovakia or did the media? It's probably the latter.

Man for man, Slovakia at least matched Poland for talent, although you wonder how much of this was the Poles being over-rated due to the presence of Robert Lewandowski.

Either way, Slovakia certainly showed anyone who doubted them that they are not to be taken lightly.

Slovakia squad

Goalkeepers: Martin Dubravka, Marek Rodak, Dusan Kuciak

Defenders: Peter Pekarik, Lubomir Satka, Denis Vavro, Milan Skriniar, Tomas Hubocan, Jakub Holubek

Midfielders: Marek Hamsik, Stanislav Lobotka, Patrik Hrosovsky, Juraj Kucka, Ondrej Duda, Robert Mak, Vladimir Weiss, Laszlo Benes, Lukas Haraslin, Tomas Suslov, Matus Bero, Erik Jirka

Forwards: Michal Duris, Robert Bozenik, David Strelec

International head-to-head

Sweden wins: 3

Draws: 2

Slovakia wins: 0

Goalscorer bets

The sitter that Marcus Berg missed against Spain highlighted Sweden's lack of cutting edge in the final third, so it's probably fair to expect them to struggle in the final third again.

With that in mind, maybe set-piece specialist Seb Larsson is worth backing.

Not only does the veteran hit a quality free-kick, he is also often on penalty-taking duty for the Swedes, so 9/1 to score the first goal and 4/1 to score any time may tempt many.

Similarly, Slovakia are lacking a real goal-threat in the their side, which has led to them utilising midfielder Ondrej Duda in an attacking role.

Centre back Milan Skriniar has scored two of their last three goals in international football though, so may be he's worth another punt again at 20/1 to score the first goal and 10/1 anytime.