Sweden's preparations for the all-important Euro 2016, which starts on June 10, continue with a friendly against Slovenia at Swedbank Stadion in Malmo on Monday. Such matches give the manager options to play different combinations and analyse what works best for them. Sweden will start the match as favourites, considering they are playing at home, even if they will be without their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Sweden look a different side when their striker Ibrahimovic is on the pitch, as he has won a number of matches single-handedly for his nation. But the former PSG striker, who has been closely linked to Manchester United, will not feature in the international friendly, due to a calf problem.
Sweden manager Erik Hamren will not want to risk his best player against Slovenia, but he might feature in their next friendly against Wales, which will be their last match before Euro 2016, on June 5.
"We'll save it until the Wales match. It's the calf he's had problems with toward the end at PSG," The National quoted Hamren as saying.
His absence will give other players in the squad to shine, and Hamren will hope that his players deliver in Malmo, and register a win without Ibrahimovic, which should do wonders to their confidence ahead of Euro 2016.
But, things do not look too good when the striker does not play for Sweden as was witnessed in one of their matches in March. They lost to Turkey when the striker did not feature. Sweden cannot depend too much on Ibrahimovic. Players like Kim Kallstrom, Erkan Zengin and Ola Toivonen need to shoulder more responsibility. Hence this game will represent a chance for established players to play a key role.
Slovenia have their own problems. They failed to qualify for Euro 2016, which might spur them to come out all guns blazing against one of the teams that will participate in the European championships. But, the record of late does not augur too well for Slovenia, who have struggled to play quality football in their last friendlies, against Macedonia and Northern Ireland.
Though Slovenia defeated Macedonia, they did not look comfortable against their opponents, scrapping a narrow 1-0 win. Northern Ireland defeated Slovenia.
Where to watch live
The international friendly between Sweden vs Slovenia is scheduled to start from 7:30 p.m. local time (11 p.m. IST and 6:30p.m. BST) start. Unfortunately, there will be no live coverage of this game in India, US and UK.
Sweden fans can watch the game live on TV4 Sweden.
Sweden vs Slovenia can be watched in Australia on beIN Sports Australia, with live streaming on beIN Sports Connect. France viewers can watch the game on beIN Sports 2. Viewers in the Netherlands can watch the game live on Fox Sports 2.