Group E comes to a close and mathematically, every team in the group can still finish top, so we should be in for an exciting final round of group games. Sweden currently top the group on 4 points, with Slovakia in 2nd on 3 points, Spain sit in 3rd on 2 points and Poland are looking up from the bottom with just 1 point to their name so far. Slovakia take on Spain in their final group game and Poland play Sweden.
Slovakia – A win in their final game vs Spain would guarantee Slovakia at least 2nd spot in the group, and they would top the group if Sweden fail to beat Poland. Draw vs Spain and they would finish 2nd as long as Poland don’t win vs Sweden. If they draw and Poland win, then goal difference would have to be used to separate Poland, Slovakia and Sweden who would all be level on 4 points with the H2H record also being level as they have all beaten one and lost to the other. If Slovakia lose then the best they can do is finish 3rd in the group, though they would finish bottom if they lose and Poland beat Sweden.
Spain – A win for Spain would guarantee them at least 2nd spot in the group, but it would see them top the group if Poland beat Sweden, or if Poland and Sweden ends in a draw and Spain have a better goal difference than Sweden. A draw would leave Spain in 3rd spot, and they would only hang on to that assuming Poland didn’t beat Sweden, if they draw and Poland were to beat Sweden then Spain would finish in bottom spot without a win to their name. If they finish 3rd they would need to be one of the best 3rd place finishers in order to qualify. Lose and Spain would be eliminated.
Sweden – A win for Sweden means they top the group. Draw and they would finish top if Spain and Slovakia ends in a draw, or if Spain win but Sweden have a better goal difference, and if goal difference is level they would then look at goals scored as the separating factor. Lose means Sweden would finish 3rd in the group if Spain or Slovakia win, if Spain vs Slovakia ends in a draw and Sweden lose, goal difference would be used to separate Sweden, Poland and Slovakia. With 4 points Sweden have already qualified as should they get bumped out of the top 2 in their group they would be one of the best 3rd place finishers.
Poland – Poland have to win to have any chance of seeing the last 16. A win for them would see them finish 2nd in the group as long as Spain and Slovakia does not end in a draw. If Poland win and Spain vs Slovakia ends in a draw, that would leave Slovakia, Sweden and Poland all level on 4 points, with goal difference needed to separate them.
The bookmakers (All prices taken from Bet365) currently have Spain as the 5/6 to win the group, with Sweden at 5/4, Slovakia at 12/1 and Poland at 20/1. Spain are long odds on at 1/10 to qualify for the knock out stages, with Poland at 6/4 and Slovakia at 9/4.
The winner of this group will play one of the best 3rd place finishers from group A, B. C or D, who right now could be Switzerland, Finland, Ukraine, England, Croatia, Czech Republic or Scotland. The runner up in this group will play the runner up of Group D, who again could be any of England, Czech Republic, Scotland or Croatia. The best 3rd placed team in this group, should they qualify for the knock out rounds would play either Belgium or Holland.
Lets take a look at the final 2 games and how things may play out.
Slovakia vs Spain
In their 2 games played at the tournament so far, Slovakia have scored 2 goals, conceded 2 goals, had 21 shots with 2 on target, they have an average possession percentage of 50.50%, have been given 4 yellow cards, no red cards and have taken 8 corners.
Spain have scored 1 goal, conceded 1 goal, had 29 shots with 10 on target, they have a staggering average possession percentage of 81.50%, have been given 2 yellow cards, no red cards and taken 13 corners.
The referee for this game is Bjorn Kuipers (Holland). This season he has refereed 33 games, handing out 79 yellow cards and 4 red cards, for an average of 2.39 yellow cards per game and 0.12 red cards per game. In his career he has taken charge of 256 games, giving 836 yellow cards and 39 red cards, an average of 3.27 yellow cards per game and 0.15 red cards per game.
Spain have had a pretty dismal tournament so far scoring just 1 goal, despite having 29 shots in their 2 games and a staggering average possession of 81.50%. Slovakia know that a draw will surely be enough for them to progress to the last 16. Whilst Spain have been unimpressive, it would still be a huge shock if they failed to beat Slovakia here, however I don’t think it will prove to be an easy afternoon for the Spaniards. With their huge amount of possession, Poland and in particular Sweden opted to sit deep and allow Spain to have the ball, and they struggled to break both of those sides down. Slovakia will surely adopt a similar tac tic here with a draw all they need. Spain at times have looked to lack leadership, the kind of leadership that a player like Sergio Ramos would have given if he was in the team. It will be interesting to see if Spain change their approach, or if they still adopt the patient style that has failed them so far, or if they look to go more direct early on. A draw could see Spain eliminated, as they would be at the mercy of having to be one of the best 3rd place finishers, and if that happened with them having failed to win a single game, they could count themselves very lucky indeed. Slovakia have not kept a clean sheet at this years tournament yet, and whilst i think they will frustrate Spain, I can’t see them keeping them out for the entire game. I see Spain somewhat limping to qualification by a 2-0 score line in a game where they enjoy most of the possession.
Sweden vs Poland
In their 2 games played at Euro 2020, Sweden have scored 1 goal, conceded no goals, had 17 shots with 5 on target, they have an average possession of just 27.50%, have been given 2 yellow cards, no red cards and taken 8 corners.
Poland have scored 2 goals, conceded 3 goals, had 22 shots with 5 on target, they have an average possession of 40.50%, have been given 4 yellow cards, 1 red card and taken 6 corners.
The referee for this game is Michael Oliver (England). This season he has been the man in the middle of 37 games, giving 115 yellow cards and 4 red cards, an average of 3.11 yellow cards per game and 0.11 red cards per game. In his career to date he has taken charge of 340 games, he has given 1120 yellow cards and 45 red cards, an average of 3.29 yellow cards per game and 0.13 red cards per game.
Sweden know that whatever happens here they will be in the last 16, either as one of the top 2 finishers in this group, or as a best 3rd place finisher. Though an immediate meeting with Belgium or Holland awaits if they finish 3rd, so they will be desperate to finish in the top 2. Poland know they have to win to have any chance of being in the last 16. I expect Sweden to adopt a similar style to what they used against Spain, though maybe not as extreme. They will play with defence in mind first and prove very difficult to break down. Where this game will be won or lost for me is in Poland’s attacking style. If they try to pass their way through Sweden and methodically break them down then i feel they will struggle, just as Spain did. If Poland are more direct with crosses into the box and constant pressure on the keeper and defenders then i feel they will have some joy. I see Poland coming out on top in a low scoring game, with Sweden not willing to take many risks and Poland unlikely to risk much if they do grab a goal.