Sweden and Belgium will begin their respective 2024 European Championship qualification campaigns with a Group F encounter in Solna on Friday night. The home nation will enter the match off the back of four straight friendly victories, while this will represent Belgium’s first match since being eliminated in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup.
Sweden have Zlatan Ibrahimovic back in their squad, with the striker called up at the age of 41, one year after making his last appearance for the national side.
Having now recovered from a serious knee injury, Ibrahimovic has said that he is open to featuring at Euro 2024, but he is no longer considered to be an automatic starter for the national side.
Rotherham United’s Viktor Johansson is the only uncapped player in the squad, and there are expected to be starts for the likes of Victor Lindelof, Emil Forsberg and Alexander Isak in this contest.
As for Belgium, Thibaut Courtois, Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku are set to remain important players for the national side moving forward despite the change of manager.
There are three uncapped players in the squad, though, with Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski, Southampton’s Romeo Lavia and PSV Eindhoven’s Johan Bakayoko hoping to be involved.
Amadou Onana has been in strong form for Everton this season and could start on Friday, while Leicester City duo Timothy Castagne and Wout Faes could both feature at the back.
Sweden possible starting lineup:
Olsen; Holm, Hien, Lindelof, Augustinsson; Claesson, Olsson, Karlstrom, Forsberg; Isak, Kulusevski
Belgium possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Meunier, Vertonghen, Faes, Castagne; Onana, De Bruyne, Lavia; Trossard, Lukaku, Carrasco
Prediction: Sweden 1-1 Belgium
Belgium have won their last three games against Sweden, with the home side not beating their opponents here since 1961. This has all of the makings of a very interesting game, but we are struggling to separate the two teams, ultimately settling on a low-scoring draw.