Sweden were celebrating being crowned as European Under-21 Championships winners in Czech Republic in 2015.
Two years on, the defending champions face crashing out of the competition at the first hurdle, having picked up just two points from their opening two Group A fixtures.
Sweden were forced to settle for a share of the spoils against England in their opening match after Linus Wahlqvist saw his late penalty saved by Jordan Pickford, while Hakan Ericsson's men were again left frustrated after Dawid Kownacki's spot-kick in stoppage time secured a point for Poland in Monday's match.
As a consequence, Sweden's fate is out of their hands ahead of their final group game against Slovakia - and even a win from Thursday's tussle may not be enough to see the defending champions progress to the final four of the competition.
Slovakia, too, face a struggle to reach the semi-final stage. Victory against Poland in their opening group game had set things up nicely for Pavel Hapal's charges and Slovakia could have sealed their place in the last four with a win against England on Monday.
Hapal's men, though, surrendered a 1-0 half-time lead against Aidy Boothroyd's men, eventually being beaten 2-1, and, so, Slovakia must win and hope that England slip up against Poland if they are to stand a realistic chance of reaching the knockout stage.
Sweden are chalked up as a 7/5 (2.40) chance to claim victory, while Slovakia are available at 15/8 (2.88) to pick up what could prove to be three precious points. With only the group winners guaranteed a semi-final spot, a draw will almost certainly see both nations eliminated and there is 12/5 (3.40) that the match ends in stalemate.
There have been at least three goals scored in eight of Slovakia's last nine matches and, with both nations forced to throw caution to the wind, there could be value in backing that trend to continue in this clash. There is 4/6 (1.67) that this tussle produces more than two goals, with 4/7 (1.57) that both sides are on target - a selection that would have landed in six of Slovakia's last seven games.
Disappointing results mean that both nations are in the last-chance saloon ahead of Thursday's tussle and an open, entertaining contest may be the outcome as both sides go for glory. As such, a frenetic first half is possible and the 13/8 (2.63) quote for two or more goals to be scored before the break could provide punters with a path to profit.
|Over 1.5 first half goals at 13/8 (2.63) for a 1pt stake with Paddy Power|