Spain begin their quest to win a fourth European Championship on Monday evening when they host Sweden at La Cartuja Stadium (20:00 UK time).
Luis Enrique’s men are among the favourites to go all the way but face a Sweden team who have previously made life difficult for them. Since a semi-final berth at Euro 1992, which they hosted, the Scandinavian powerhouse have reached the knockout phase just once (Euro 2004) across five tournament appearances.
How to live stream Spain vs Sweden:
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Where to watch Spain vs Sweden on TV:
- UK: BBC One
- US: ESPN
Scoreline prediction: Spain 3-1 Sweden
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Spain vs Sweden build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
There were no problems for Spain in reaching their 11th European Championship as they would finish top of Group F, winning eight of their 10 matches and tasting no defeats. Luis Enrique’s side finished on 31 goals with only Belgium (40), England (37), Italy (37) and Russia (33) outscoring the three-time Euro winners heading into the championship.
Of the two games Spain dropped points, one came against Sweden who held them to a 1-1 draw in Stockholm after Rodrigo netted a 92nd-minute equaliser. Janne Andersson’s side ultimately finished behind La Roja by four points and subsequently reached a sixth consecutive European Championship and will be hoping to escape the group phase for the first time since Euro 2004.
- Spain (vs Lithuania): Fernández; O. Gil, Guillamón, Mingueza, Cucurella; Zubimendi, Villar, García; Díaz, Ruiz, B. Gil.
- Sweden (vs Armenia): Olsen; Lustig, Lindelöf, Danielson, Bengtsson; Ekdal, Larsson, Olsson; Kulusevski, Isak, Forsberg.
The biggest question mark for Spain regards the makeup of their defence. Sergio Ramos’ absence means Aymeric Laporte and Pau Torres are expected to start in central defence though Eric García is pushing for a nod. As for who starts beneath the bars any one of La Roja’s three goalkeepers — David de Gea, Robert Sánchez or Unai Simón — has a chance. The expectation is Sweden’s experienced heads in midfield Albin Ekdal, Sebastien Larsson and Emil Forsberg will feature with 21-year-old marksman Alexander Isak leading the line.
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Players to watch:
- Spain: There was a collective gasp when Spanish national team boss Luis Enrique announced that 180-time international Sergio Ramos wouldn’t be part of his Euro 2020 plans. His absence presents a golden opportunity for newly-capped Aymeric Laporte who for some time seemed destined to represent France, but Didier Deschamps’ reluctance to use the Manchester City centre-back saw him change allegiance. Laporte, who debuted in a recent goalless draw with Portugal, has proven he can rise to the occasion. Pep Guardiola’s men seriously missed his leadership and defensive skills as Liverpool marched to a first league title in the 2019/20 season. Those attributes will certainly be needed if La Roja are to succeed in a first tournament without Ramos since Euro 2004.
- Sweden: It seemed for a while that Zlatan Ibrahimović was going to make a sensational return to international tournament football but a knee injury has prevented that fairytale story from being realised. His experience and scoring prowess could have proven invaluable but in his absence Sweden have chugged along nicely. Their most prolific name at these championships is 34-year-old Marcus Berg who is expected to line up alongside the promising striker Alexander Isak, no stranger to Spain’s defence. The 21-year-old centre-forward ended the most recent La Liga season having bagged 17 goals across 34 matches for Real Sociedad. He subsequently broke Ibrahimović’s record — which stood at 16 goals for Barcelona in 2009/10 — for most goals by a Swede in a single Spanish top division season.