Fabio Capello’s Russia side face a tough task with a trip to Stockholm in a match that could go a long way to deciding who qualifies from a tight Group G.
Capello, who faced criticism after his team struggled through a winless World Cup, made a winning start to qualification as Russia delivered a 4-0 drubbing of group minnows Liechtenstein, with the visitors contributing to their own downfall with two own goals.
Sweden, whose first fixture ended in a 1-1 draw with Austria, may be missing Zlatan Ibrahimovic for Thursday’s fixture.
The striker, who has netted 50 goals for his country, has initially ruled himself out of the match after failing to recover from a tendon injury that has forced him to miss four Paris Saint Germain matches. Ex-Bolton striker Johan Elmander is his most likely replacement.
KICK-OFF: Thursday, 7.45pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
Russia 2 (Pavlyuchenko, Arshavin) Sweden 0, Euro 2008 Group Stage, June 2008
Russia 1 (Kerzhakov) Sweden 1 (Ibrahimovic), Friendly, August 2002
Sweden 1 (Pettersson) Russia 0, Friendly, August 1998
In four matches against Russia since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, Sweden have won two, drawn one and lost one.
Despite scoring 50 goals in his 100 international appearances, Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic only has eight in his 21 European Championship qualifiers – four against San Marino.
There are as many players in the Swedish squad who play in England as play in Sweden, with three: Jonas Olsson (West Bromwich Albion), Martin Olsson (Norwich City) and Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland).
Apart from Zenit’s Alexander Kerkhakov, who has scored 28 in 86 for Russia, there is nobody in their squad who has scored more than eight international goals.
Sweden to win: 2.5
Russia to win: 2.8
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