Sweden and Republic of Ireland meet for the first time in a major tournament when they go head-to-head in Monday's Group E curtain-raiser.
Neither of these two nations progressed beyond the group stages in this competition four years ago and, consequently, both sides will be fully aware of the importance of making a positive start to their respective campaigns.
Republic of Ireland produced a dismal performance as they slumped to a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Belarus in their final warm-up match, but that will be quickly forgotten should the Boys in Green deliver in their opening group game. Martin O'Neill's men have not won a match at the European Championships for 28 years, but can be backed at 47/20 (3.35) with NetBet to see off Sweden in Saint-Denis.
Erik Hamren's men are chalked up as a 27/20 (2.35) chance to pick up all three points, while the 2/1 (3.0) quote on offer from NetBet for both sides to settle for a share of the spoils could well prove popular with punters.
Both nations qualified for this tournament via the play-offs, with Ireland beating Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-1 on aggregate, while Sweden saw off Denmark, winning 4-3 over two legs against their Scandinavian rivals.
The irrepressible Zlatan Ibrahimovic will lead the Swedish attack, but the 34-year-old striker has never scored against Ireland; indeed, Sweden have failed to find the net in three of their last four games against the Boys in Green. However, Sweden come into this match on the back of an emphatic 3-0 win against Wales in their final warm-up fixture and Hamren's men will be in confident mood, having lost just one of their last 10 matches.
Ireland have never scored more than one goal in a match at the European Championships and, in the build-up to this tournament, much has been made of a lack of creativity within Irish ranks, but the O’Neill’s outfit have found the net in all but one of their last 14 fixtures.
O'Neill will be alarmed that his side have managed just one clean sheet - against Gibraltar - in their last seven on the road while Sweden have found the net in 10 of their last 11 outings and are capable of exploiting any weakness in Ireland's defensive unit.
With tricky tests against Belgium and Italy still to come, both teams will be desperate to get off to a flying start with a win and could be more inclined to push for a victory given the intimidating prospect of their upcoming clashes.
NetBet offer just 10/21 (1.45) that fewer than three goals are scored when these two teams lock horns, but better value lies in the juicy 6/5 (2.20) quote from the same firm for both teams to find the net.
The selection would have landed in five of Ireland’s last seven matches and, with both teams capable of getting amongst the goals, the 6/5 (2.20) offered up for goals at both ends is worthy of support ahead of this Group E opener.
|Both teams to score at 13/10 (2.30) for a 1.5pt stake with NetBet|