Preview: Austria vs. Sweden

Preview: Austria vs. Sweden

Austria will be aiming to remain top of Group F by gaining a positive result against Sweden on Tuesday.

The visitors have won one and lost one of their opening two qualifying games, leaving them four points behind their forthcoming opponents with a game in hand.

As such, Tuesday’s match at Ernst Happel Stadion represents a real opportunity for Austria to take a huge step towards qualifying for next summer’s European Championship, which will be held within the borders of their neighbours Germany.

After dispatching Azerbaijan and Estonia in their opening two matches, Ralf Rangnick’s side earned a creditable point with a 1-1 draw away to Belgium on Saturday, with Romelu Lukaku’s second-half strike cancelling out Orel Mangala’s own goal after 21 minutes.

The former Manchester United boss, who recently celebrated a year in charge of Das Team, will recognise that moving seven points clear of Sweden with only five games remaining for their opponents could be a gap too far to bridge should Austria be able to defeat them in Vienna.

Indeed, with two automatic qualification spots up for grabs to compete in Rangnick’s home nation next summer, anything short of reaching their third consecutive European Championship would be regarded as a major disappointment for this improving Austrian outfit.

Sweden, on the other hand, could be in real danger of missing out on qualifying for Europe’s premier international tournament for the first time since Euro 1996 should they fall to a second defeat in three matches on Tuesday.

The Blue and Yellow will almost certainly not receive a second chance of reaching Germany via the playoffs due to their dismal performance in the most recent Nations League campaign, which saw Janne Andersson’s side relegated to the third tier after taking only four points from six games.

In truth, it was a little surprising to see the 60-year-old hold onto his job, especially having also missed out on qualifying for the recent World Cup in Qatar.

The former IFK Norrkoping boss was impressed with his side’s performance when beating New Zealand 4-1 in a friendly on Friday, but that will count for nothing if they can not back it up by at least avoiding defeat against Austria in a pivotal encounter.

Austria Euro Champ Qualifying form:

Austria form (all competitions):

Sweden Euro Champ Qualifying form:

Sweden form (all competitions):

We say: Austria 2-2 Sweden
Both of these teams have been scoring and conceding plenty of goals lately, so we can envisage an entertaining encounter in Vienna.

Sweden will know that a defeat could potentially be fatal in terms of their hopes of qualifying for next summer’s European Championship, but we believe they have enough about them to avoid defeat, with a share of the spoils potentially suiting both managers.

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