Sweden's quest to qualify for World Cup 2018 continues with a testing trip to take on Bulgaria in Sofia on Thursday night.
Janne Andersson's men were drawn in Group A alongside Netherlands, who finished third at the 2014 World Cup, and France, who were beaten finalists at last summer's European Championship, while talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced his retirement from international football in the wake of Sweden's group stage exit at last summer's showpiece in France.
With those factors in mind, many neutral observers concluded that Andersson's men might struggle in their bid to reach Russia; thus far, Swedem have defied their doubters in spectacular style.
Indeed, Andersson's charges surged to the Group A summit with a dramatic 2-1 win against France in Solna in their previous World Cup qualifier and the Swedes can be backed at 5/6 (1.83) with SportPesa to consolidate top spot with a vital victory in the Bulgarian capital.
Thursday's hosts famously finished fourth in the 1994 World Cup - beaten by Sweden in the third place play-off - but a repeat of those heroics are a distant dream. Indeed, Petar Hubchev's men face an uphill struggle just to qualify for next summer's showpiece having collected just nine points from their opening six qualification fixtures. Bulgaria, however, can still provide dangerous opposition - as they underlined when delivering a damaging blow to Netherlands' hopes of qualification with a shock 2-0 win against the Dutch in Sofia back in March.
Hubchev's men would dearly love to replicate that result - and performance - in this match and SportPesa go 15/4 (4.75) that Bulgaria come out on top, while the same firm go 12/5 (3.40) that both teams are forced to settle for a share of the spoils.
Despite the loss of the aforementioned Ibrahimovic, Sweden boast a potent threat in the final third; Andersson's men have scored 16 goals in their last five games and they will fancy their chances of adding to that tally against a Bulgarian side that they thumped 3-0 in the reverse fixture last October.
Sweden have been in fine form in qualifying thus far and they look likely to be too strong for Hubchev's side; backing the visitors to bag a vital victory at 5/6 (1.83) with SportPesa, therefore, could put punters on a path to profit ahead of this Group A encounter from the Bulgarian capital.
|Sweden to win at 5/6 (1.83) for a 2pt stake with SportPesa|