Sweden v Spain preview

The top two in Group D meet at Tivoli Neu Stadium

Sweden and Spain will be hoping to take another step towards the last eight when they meet in Innsbruck.

Both sides secured victories in their opening Group D encounters, Sweden grinding out a 2-0 victory over reigning champions Greece and Spain cruising to a 4-1 success against Russia.

Three points at Tivoli Neu Stadium on Saturday would all but secure a place in the quarter-finals for the victors, while ensuring that the losers would still be sweating on their continued involvement in the tournament.

The gulf in class between Spain's showing against Guus Hiddink's hard-working side and Sweden's lacklustre performance against the title holders would suggest that there should only be one winner in this contest.

However, the Swedes are nothing but resilient and would be expected to raise the game against Luis Aragones' men.

Lars Lagerback is a master of negotiating the group stages of international tournaments and will have his side fired up for the crunch encounter.

Spain have proven in the past that they have a tendency to breeze through their opening fixtures before crumbling in the knockout stages and will be desperate to keep their momentum going.

Having already faced each other during qualifying for Euro 2008 both coaches will know what to expect from their opposite number, though it will interesting to see how the game pans out in a neutral venue.

Sweden tasted a 2-0 success in Solna on their route to Austria and Switzerland, while the Spaniards exacted revenge with a 3-0 victory in Madrid.


Lagerback has a number of important decisions to make before the sides get reacquainted, with Christian Wilhelmsson ruled out of the tournament with a knee complaint and Niclas Alexandersson out of the Spanish contest with a calf injury.

Fredrik Stoor is expected to deputise for the former Sheffield Wednesday utility man at right-back, while there are also lingering concerns over the fitness of talismanic front-man Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Internzaionale ace is struggling with a knee problem, but Lagerback expects him to make the starting line-up.

"The good news is that he felt no pain after the last match or in training," said the coach.


Unsurprisingly Spain are expected to be unchanged, with David Villa and Fernando Torres in tandem up front.

Cesc Fabregas will once again be forced to settle for a place on the bench, despite notching his first international goal again the Russians last Tuesday, while Aragones expects David Silva to shine on the left of midfield.

"Sweden have got big lads who win the ball in the air, so we must cut their supply," he said

"I think our left side is in great shape. David Silva can play anywhere across the pitch and Joan Capdevila could be a central defender, a wing-back, a midfielder, and he gives you goals."