Greece have won eight of their past 10 matches but, unfortunately, the two they did not win are their two most recent matches.
They lost 3-2 to 52nd-ranked Hungary two weeks ago before drawing 0-0 against Armenia, who are ranked 78th, one week later, hence they are at 22/10 to win tonight’s encounter while Sweden are favourites at 17/10, with 2/1 being offered for a draw.
Those are poor results right before the start of a big event, especially when one hears that Greece showed “indifferent form” against the Hungarians and could have lost by more.
Nevertheless, Greece were very impressive in qualifying for Euro 2008 and have the core of the team that took them to glory in 2004. That squad has achieved tremendous results for Greece over a considerable period of time – as their world ranking shows – so it is probably acceptable not to read too much into the slip-ups against Hungary and Armenia.
Sweden, by contrast, have won just four of their past 10 matches, most recently losing 1-0 to 31st-ranked Ukraine after beating 76th-ranked Slovenia 1-0 two weeks ago.
So, if Greece’s playing preparations were not successful, one could hardly say that Sweden’s have been perfect.
Also concerning for Sweden is that they have scored two goals or more only twice in their past 10 matches, whereas Greece have scored at least two goals in seven of their past 10 matches.
Part of Sweden’s scoring problem may be that key forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic has not scored an international goal since October 2005. Also, for this match, he has a swollen knee and is thought unlikely to last the 90 minutes.
Ibrahimovic’s strike partner is the very experienced Henrik Larsson, who is always likely to be a goal-scoring threat. However, Larsson is now closer to 40 than 30, so may not be quite as sharp as he was in his prime.
Greece, who have a fully fit squad for this match, hold a 2-1 head-to-head record against Sweden, with three draws. The last time they played against each other was in August 2003 and Greece won 2-1. Sweden’s only victory over Greece was more than 87 years ago in the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, a 9-0 rout.
Greece are ranked 22 places higher than Sweden and go into this match with a vastly superior recent record. It is surprising that Sweden are considered the favourites for this match and the 22/10 about a victory for Greece looks like reasonable value.
Please note that odds are correct at time of publication but are subject to change.
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