Three-time winners Spain will be looking to make the perfect start to their Euro 2020 campaign when they take on Sweden in Seville on Monday night.
La Roja are bidding to win a fourth European Championship, which would make them the most successful team in the history of the competition, while Sweden will be attempting to make it out of the group stages for the first time since Euro 2004, when they progressed to the quarter-finals.
Spain’s preparations for this summer’s European Championship have been far from ideal, with captain Sergio Busquets and then defender Diego Llorente testing positive for coronavirus in quick succession.
Luis Enrique’s side drew 0-0 with Portugal in their first pre-tournament friendly on June 4 but were forced to field their Under-21s for the clash with Lithuania on June 8, with the first team isolating due to Busquets’s positive test.
The Under-21s put in an excellent performance against Lithuania, with Hugo Guillamon, Brahim Diaz, Juan Miranda and Javi Puado on the scoresheet, and the result stretched Spain’s unbeaten run in all competitions to eight matches, which has included wins in three of their last four fixtures.
La Roja have won this competition on three previous occasions, level with Germany, and will now be looking to move out alone in terms of trophies, having triumphed in 1964, 2008 and 2012.
It has been a difficult few years for Spain in international football, exiting the 2014 World Cup in the group stage, before only reaching the round of 16 in Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup; they simply cannot be written off at this level, though, and will be eyeing a perfect start to Group E on Monday night.
Sweden, as mentioned, have previous experience when it comes to advancing to the latter stages of the European Championship, making the semi-finals in 1992 and quarter-finals in 2004.
The Swedes have now been present in each of the last six tournaments, but they have been eliminated in the group stage in three successive competitions and will be determined to go further this year.
Group E is fascinating, with Poland and Slovakia joining these two teams in the group, and Sweden will be wary of suffering a poor result in their opener considering that there is no easy match in the section.
Sweden should enter the competition full of confidence, though, having won each of their last five matches, including back-to-back friendly victories over Finland and Armenia on May 29 and June 5 respectively.
Head coach Janne Andersson said that facing Spain is still “one of the toughest challenges in the world of football”, but the Blue and Yellows certainly have the players capable of making Monday’s fixture a very uncomfortable 90 minutes for a Spain side very much in a transitional period.
Spain form (all competitions):
Sweden form (all competitions):