Sweden vs Belarus by Isaiah
Sweden didn't enter the new qualifying path in a good way, as the side had a home draw against Netherlands 1:1 at the beginning, then recorded victories over Luxembourg and Bulgaria, but suffered 2:1 draw away to France in the most recent qualifying game. Even though their results were pretty much expected, it already makes this position quite difficult since the team has really strong group this time.
They are already three points behind leaders from France, which are without any doubt first favorite, being tied up at second position together with Netherlands and with only a point more than Bulgaria, which means that games like this are a must win for them. In comparison to previous squads, Swedish team will be playing here without defender Oscar Wendt (28/0, Gladbach), Martin Olsson (40/5, Swansea), forward John Guidetti (17/1, Celta). Couple of important players including Ibrahimovic, Kallstrom and goalkeeper Isaksson have retired from the national team after EURO 2016.
Belarus, on the other side, started the qualification in modest way, but it was obvious right after the draw that the team won't stand much chances of making surprise here and that their path should be just a build up for next competitions. After four matches played, the team has two draws (against France and Luxembourg at home) and two defeats, against Netherlands and Bulgaria away from home.
Even though they started with surprising draw in front of own crowd against France, their ambitions went lower with next results especially when the side took only a point in a home game against complete outsiders from Luxembourg. Additionally, the side has scored just two goals in first four matches, continue to struggle in attack as they usually do for years and years.
In comparison to previous recent call-ups, visitors can't count at defender Maksim Bardachow (44/2, Orenburg), midfielders Alexander Hleb (77/6, Krylia Sovetov), Sergey Krivets (38/5, Wisla Plock) and forward Sergei Kornilenko (78/17, Krylia Sovetov).
Quality is without any doubt with the home team and I expect them to prevail easier than what the odds suggest. They are without their biggest star which was a key player for many years, but the Swedish team still has enough quality to overpower the opponent with ease.