There are two words feared by Premier League managers and they are, 'International Friendlies'! That's right, there's a small number of 2014 World Cup qualifiers this week, including Northern Ireland's home clash with Azerbaijan. But what this means is that there are a whole host of International Friendlies taking place on Wednesday night, with England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland all in action.
Roy Hodgson's England side travel to Stockholm where the aptly named Friends Arena hosts their game with Sweden. It's somewhat of a makeshift squad that travels across to Scandinavia and there's the possibility of a number of debuts in the Three Lions shirt. There are seven players in line for their first caps for England on Wednesday. Fraser Forster has been rewarded a call-up following his fine performances in goal for Celtic against Barcelona, whilst Steven Caulker, Carl Jenkinson and Ryan Shawcross are all in the squad in defense. Everton's Leon Osman gets his first call up at the age of 32, whilst at the other end of the scale, Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Zaha have both graduated from the under-21's.
England have won their last two meetings with Sweden and the bookmakers make them 17/10 to win the match in Stockholm on Wednesday night. The supporters will be pleased to know the roof at the Friends Stadium will be shut following the shambolic scenes in Poland last month. The hosts are slight favourites in the betting, as Paddy Power go 8/5 about the Swedes in the match betting with the draw 9/4.
Sweden had for a long time been a thorn in the English side, unbeaten in twelve matches going all the way back to 1968 before a friendly twelve months ago where England were 1-0 winners thanks to a Daniel Majstorovic own goal. The teams met again in the European Championships last summer, which England won under Roy Hodgson 3-2.
England are unbeaten this season, picking up a friendly win against Italy before winning twice and drawing twice in their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign. The wins over Moldova and San Marino coupled with the draws against Ukraine and Poland leave Roy Hodsgon's side on top of Group H by one point from Montenegro. The performance wasn't great last time out in Poland however and with so many first teamers out for Wednesday's game it's difficult to be a confident backer of Hodgson's men.
Sweden currently sit in second place in their group behind Germany but ahead of the Republic of Ireland with a game in hand over the Germans. This workmanlike team is managed by Erik Hamren and they are reliant on the mercurial skills of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack. It's no real surprise that the Paris St Germain attacker is favourite to score the first goal with Paddy Power at odds of 9/2, whilst the 13/8 about him to score anytime looks like a decent bet against what will be a makeshift England defence. In the same market, Gary Cahill catches the eye at best price 11/1 with Paddy Power. The Chelsea defender almost certain to start the match at centre back alongside Phil Jagielka and with a good habit of popping up with a goal at set pieces.
There have been plenty of goals in this fixture in the recent past, so the over 2.5 goals at 11/10 in the betting with Paddy Power does have some appeal, especially with the defence to likely be chopped and changed during the 90 mins.
There has been a lot of talk in the build up to the match about the talent that is Wilfried Zaha and the Crystal Palace is 10/1 to score first if he is to be handed his first cap. The bookmakers make him odds on to still be at Palace after the January transfer window with Arsenal the favourites to sign him were he to move clubs this season.
Sweden v England Tips
Tip #1: The draw @ odds of 9/4 with Paddy Power.
Tip #2: Over 2.5 goals @ odds of 11/10 with Paddy Power.
Tip #3: Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score anytime @ odds of 13/8 with Paddy Power.
Correct Score Odds
13/2 Sweden 1-0
10/1 Sweden 2-0
8/1 Sweden 2-1
7/1 Draw 0-0
5/1 Draw 1-1
12/1 Draw 2-2
7/1 England 1-0
12/1 England 2-0
9/1 England 2-1
First Goalscorer Odds
9/2 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
15/2 Danny Welbeck
15/2 Mathias Ranegie
8/1 Daniel Sturridge
8/1 Marcus Berg
10/1 Ashley Young
10/1 Wilfried Zaha
11/1 Steven Gerrard
12/1 Tobias Sana
14/1 Raheem Sterling
14/1 Kim Kallstrom
Odds supplied by PaddyPower.com, plus over 50 other markets on this match and all International fixtures, including live betting in-running.
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