In the last round of the group stage, Sweden not only secured a place in the play-offs for the first time since 2004 with a 3:2 victory over Poland, but also managed to finish 1st in the group and ahead of the Spanish, who finished 2nd.
The Swedes, who reached the quarter-finals at the 2018 World Championship, will be looking to not only repeat but also improve on that result at the European Cup, and the conditions are almost ideal for that. In the event of a win against Ukraine, the winner of the England/Germany pairing would be waiting for the Swedes, but as neither of these teams look dominant, the Swedes would have a chance.
The Swedes are led in this championship by E. Forsberg (RB Leipzig), who scored three goals, A. Isak (Real Sociedad), who is the youngest player to score for the Swedes in international competition, and D. Kuluszewski, who made two assists in the match against Poland. Although the Swedes do not have their most famous player, Z. Ibrahimovic, apart from the first game against Spain, the Swedes look really good in attack and should be able to take advantage of the rather weak defence of the Ukrainians and score goals.
The Ukrainian national team started the championship with an impressive match against the Netherlands - trailing 0:2, the Ukrainians managed to come back and level the score at 2:2, but couldn't hold on until the end and had to accept defeat. In their next match against North Macedonia, the Ukrainians kept up their aggressive attack and had 8 shots on target, 2 of which ended in goals. In the last round of the group stage, the Ukrainians lost 0:1 to Austria and finished the group stage with 3 points.
The Ukrainians were really lucky to qualify for the play-offs with just 3 points. The Ukrainians finished fourth among the third-placed teams in the group and just missed out. As for Ukraine's encounters with Sweden, they have only played once in an international tournament, at Euro 2012, where they won 2-1.
The Ukrainian team will need a good game from R. Malinovski (Atalanta) and A. Yarmolenko (West Ham United) to beat the Swedes. Yarmolenko has already scored two goals and made one assist in this tournament, and a good game and a goal from this duo in the match against Sweden could make a huge difference.
Predicted starting line-ups:
Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Danielson, Augustinsson; S. Larsson, Ekdal, Olsson, Forsberg; Quaison, Isak
Bushchan; Karavaev, Matviyenko, Zabarnyi, Mykolenko; Malinovskyi, Sydorchuk, Zinchenko; Yarmolenko, Yaremchuk, Tsyhankov
The Ukrainians have a lot of talent in attack, and it is the attack that football experts say is the main strength of the Ukrainian national team. However, the Swedish team has a particularly good defence and did not concede a goal even against Spain. The Swedes showed against the Poles that this team is not a team that gets cold feet when it comes to decisive moments, but rather a team that keeps its cool and is able to find opportunities to take the lead. The Ukrainians should score, but the Swedes are the favourites and would not be surprised to win 2-1.