UEFA Nations League: Russia vs Sweden preview

Russia are looking to record their third consecutive victory in all competitions when they host Sweden at Kaliningrad Stadium on Thursday in a UEFA Nations League clash. The two nations have last met during the qualification campaign for Euro 2016 and back then Russia secured a 1-1 draw in Sweden before defeating their opponents 1-0 in Moscow. The two nations have also met at the 2008 European Championship, and that match was won 2-0 by Russia. The last time Sweden defeated Russia was at the 1994 World Cup in the United States of America, the Swedes won that match 3-1 and managed to reach the semi-finals at that tournament.

Russia are enjoying life after the World Cup that they hosted, they performed above expectations last summer and it seems that head coach Stanislav Cherchesov has built something durable. The Russians kicked off their UEFA Nations League campaign with a 2-1 away victory over Turkey, a very good result considering that Turkey usually are very strong at home. A few days after that match the Russians blazed past the Czech Republic in a friendly, it ended 5-1. Aleksandr Golovin missed the last two matches through injury, but now he is fit and he will surely make the starting eleven.

Sweden also made a good impression at the 2018 World Cup, they reached the quarter-finals and lost 2-0 to England. However, they haven't been able to build upon that performance and went on to lose both matches during the previous international break. First they suffered a 2-0 friendly defeat in Austria, and a few days later they lost 3-2 at home against Turkey in the UEFA Nations League. That result was quite painful for the Swedes as they had a 2-0 lead on 49 minutes and conceded the last two goals in the 88th and 92nd minute. Emil Forsberg missed that match through injury but he is in the squad now and should be in the first eleven as well.

Probable line-ups:

Russia: Lunev - Fernandes, Neustadter, Dzhikiya, Kudryashov - Zobnin, Gazinskyi, Kuzyaev - Cheryshev, Golovin - Dzyuba

Sweden: Olsen - Lustig, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson - Claesson, Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg - Berg, Thelin

My prediction: Russia to win 1-0, Stanislav Cherchesov has built a very strong team and they should be able to make the most of the home pitch advantage.

Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:

Russia win - 2.10
Draw - 3.30
Sweden win - 4.00

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