Spain aim to get back to winning ways when they take on Sweden in matchday eight of La Rojas’s Euro 2020 qualification campaign – and secure a ticket to Euro 2020 in the process. Coach Robert Moreno will be looking to collect maximum points from the trip to Solna, Stockholm at the 55,000-capacity Friends Arena.
Spain have been in devastating form this calendar year – winning all but one of their seven matches from their Group F qualifying group. Last time out on their travels to fellow Scandinavian neighbours Norway, they were held to a 1-1 draw by a plucky Norwegian team who demonstrated to be a worthy opponent. Despite Spain taking the lead thanks to a long-range Saúl Ñíguez effort, the Norwegians’ were not to be denied and deserved a draw for continuing to pressure until the end – scoring a 94th minute penalty, courtesy of Joshua King.
Spain’s Captain Sergio Ramos entered the record books as Spain’s all time appearance holder with his 168th cap – eclipsing the record of icon Iker Casillas. There was a man of the match performance by Napoli’s Fabián Ruiz who produced an industrious performances, circulating the ball effectively and had two fierce strikes which struck the bar and post respectively.
For the first time ever, La Roja fielded a team made up of 11 players from 11 different clubs. With thoughts moving to Sweden, the only absence for La Roja will be record-breaking Ramos, who misses out after being awarded a yellow card against Norway and subsequently is banned. Otherwise, Moreno has a fully fit squad to choose from with competition for places hotter than ever to make a breakthrough into his talented starting eleven.
In terms of their opposition, Sweden come into the contest on the back of a triumph away against Malta (0-4) and currently have 14 points to their name. Manager Janne Andersson will be aiming to give La Roja a more serious test than their previous match when Sweden were defeated 3-0 in the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu last June. A Sergio Ramos penalty, another spot kick converted by Álvaro Morata and Mikel Oyarzabal were enough to seal victory for the Spaniards that night.
Sweden’s main threats could come in the shape of talented Red Bull Leipzig midfielder Emil Forsberg and the youngster lined up as the next Zlatan Ibrahimović – Alexander Isak. The promising striker will be no stranger to some of the Spanish team – plying his trade in La Liga with Spanish outfit Real Sociedad. Currently, he has four goals in nine internationals for the Swedes.
Spain have never previously won on Swedish soil with three draws and a defeat, losing 2-0 on their last visit in October 2006. However, Spain have won their last three matches against in the Scandinavian nation on Spanish territory.
A draw with results favourable elsewhere in their group is all the Spanish team require to officially stamp their passport to next summer’s Euro 2020 tournament. However, La Roja will want to put on a show and go all out for the victory to put down a firm marker as a team to fear in next summer showpiece tournament.