Euro 2016: Italy vs Sweden - Live stream info, probable line-up and match preview
Italy take on Sweden in their second group match on Friday in the UEFA Euro 2016. While Italy would like to comfortably seal their place in the knockout stage, a victory here will all but ensure a top spot for Conte’s men who will then have the luxury of facing a comparatively less stronger side in the last 16.
Much had been said about the squad selection and Antonio Conte’s apparent bias towards players who stay in Serie A, but it looks like the newly appointed Chelsea manager has taken a determined and talented crop of players with the right mix of youth and experience on the plane to France.
Italy’s campaign has begun exceptionally well after their 2-0 victory over the perennial dark horses Belgium. While their defence is a very stubborn one as always, the attack too has been on the creative side when required. They have a perfect leader in defence with the physically imposing Chiellini and two elite ball playing centre backs in Barzagli and Bonucci, with the latter running down the Belgium midfield in their tournament opener.
The double pivot of Rossi and Parolo has given the team both defensive and attacking stability, the way Conte would have liked. A high-intensity approach from the Azzurri in the first 30 minutes might just kill the match as Sweden were weak in the early first half of their previous game, often finding it difficult to get into the rhythm.
Sweden will come out all guns blazing after they earned a point against the Republic of Ireland and owing to an unusual Belgium slip up, the Scandinavian side are currently second in the points table. Sweden were lucky to manage a 1-1 draw against Ireland, courtesy of a Ciaran Clark own goal.
Erik Hamren said in his post-match press conference that his players should be mentally strong and motivated to qualify for the knockout stages. Hamren had expressed his disappointment prior to the tournament in not being able to give Zlatan Ibrahimovic full freedom in his preferred role as he also has to drop deep to create chances due to the shortage of creative midfielders in the squad.
This shortage of creativity was clearly visible in their previous match and eventually Zlatan had to drop deep.
Sweden lacked bite in their attack and their midfield was short on creativity. Their defence was mediocre and will take a heavy beating against bigger oppositions if there is no drastic improvement. The empty space between Olsson and Granqvist, when the former gets into attacking positions, has to be eased down to not allow Giaccherini a plethora of space to his right.
Allowing little space and limiting the movement of Candreva has to be the key to containing Italy's main creative threat. Swedes will look to sit back and absorb the pressure and then hit Italy on the counter. Their talisman and all-time top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who played a big role in their 1-1 draw against Ireland will once again be at the centre of attention at the Stadium Municipal.
The match will be live from 18:30 IST (Friday), 14:00 BST (Friday). Watch live streaming of Italy v/s Poland on Sony Liv, Fox Soccer2Go or Premier Player. You can also catch the live commentary on Sportskeeda.
The match will be telecasted live on Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD in India, Fox Sports in the USA and Premier Sports in the UK. The match will be played at the Stadium Municipal, Toulouse.
Italy: Pelle who missed Tuesday's training has been cleared to play against Sweden while Matteo Damian who was substituted against Belgium close to an hour's mark is expected to start on the bench and will see De Sciglio starting.
Sweden: Celtic stopper Mikael Lustig has a niggle and is doubtful for the game against the Azzurri. While the rest of the team is fit and available for selection, Hamren is expected to make some major changes to the playing eleven as he seeks his first win in Euro 2016.
Italy possible starting XI: Buffon (captain), Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Candreva, Parolo, De Rossi, Giaccherini, De Sciglio, Pelle, Eder.