Sweden can win Group E by recording a sixth consecutive victory against Poland, but their opponents are focused heading into a matchday three “final”.
The pool leaders have a dominant recent record in meetings with Poland, winning nine of their past 11 games and each of the previous five.
Poland have not beaten Sweden since 1991, although they were victors in the only previous major tournament clash at the 1974 World Cup.
Either way, Poland coach Paulo Sousa insists he is not concerned by past results ahead of Wednesday’s game in St Petersburg.
“It is true that, from a statistical point of view, Sweden have a better record against Poland,” Sousa said. “But if we look at the past, we won’t move forward. We are only focused on what is now.
“Sweden are a perfect team. They press very well, they are good in set-pieces. There is huge diversity in their play.”
Sousa added: “For us, it is like a final. We have been working hard since the first day of our training camp to be prepared.”
365 – Emil Forsberg’s penalty ends a run of 365 minutes without a goal for Sweden at the European Championships, with this their first in the competition since their opening group game at EURO 2016 (v Republic of Ireland). Deadlock. #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/cq1EexLs7W
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 18, 2021
Following a draw with Spain and narrow victory over Slovakia, Sweden are aiming to go an entire group stage without conceding for the first time since 1974.
And they do not intend to take their foot off the gas now.
Captain Sebastian Larsson said: “It’s nice to be through to the round of 16 already after just two games, but we want more. Of course we’ll go for the group win.”
Despite Sweden’s strong defensive record, this game should at least deliver goals. The sides’ previous 26 meetings have not yielded a single 0-0 draw.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Sweden – Alexander Isak
Sousa described Sweden forward Isak as “one of the best players in Europe when it comes to counter-attacks”. The striker completed six dribbles against Slovakia, although Sweden have not had a single fast break yet at the tournament. That may change against Poland, who will have to push forward in pursuit of all three points.
Poland – Robert Lewandowski
Having so often failed to make an impact on the international stage, dominant Bayern Munich goalscorer Lewandowski turned up against Spain. A stunning header meant he has been involved in 14 goals in his past 12 starts for his country. Another Lewandowski goal would make him Poland’s outright leading Euros scorer on four.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Sweden and Poland’s only previous encounter at a major tournament came in the second round of the 1974 World Cup; Poland won 1-0, courtesy of Grzegorz Lato’s solitary goal. The victors finished third – their joint-best performance at a major tournament – and Lato won the Golden Boot (seven goals).
– Poland have won just one of their past nine matches across all competitions (D4 L4), beating Andorra 3-0 in March. Indeed, Poland’s ongoing five-match winless streak (D3 L2) is their longest since September to November 2018 (six games).
– Of Sweden’s goals at the Euros, 88 per cent have been scored in the second half of games (23 of 26), the highest percentage of any side with at least three goals at the tournament.
– Poland have won their final group game in both of their last two major international tournaments (World Cup and Euros), beating Ukraine at Euro 2016 and Japan at the 2018 World Cup. Failing to win this match would be the first time Poland have not won any of their three group games at such a competition since Euro 2012.
– Sweden’s Emil Forsberg has scored each of his nation’s past two goals at major tournaments, netting winners in 1-0 victories over Switzerland at the 2018 World Cup and against Slovakia at Euro 2020. Forsberg has only scored in consecutive international appearances once previously, netting against France in November 2016 and Belarus in March 2017.