Last updated & checked: 10/08/2021
World Cup quarter finalists Sweden arrive in Vienna to face Austria, a side trying to regain some form after a disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign. The home side has seen a definite improvement in results since Franco Foda took the hot seat at the beginning of the year, but Sweden have spent the last year frustrating sides who would expect to beat them, so this should be a hotly-contested match.
The visitors come into this match knowing that they need to find some stars for the future, with two of their key players in their mid-30s. Captain Andreas Granqvist was a solid contributor in Russia but, at 34, is on borrowed time at this level and is winding his career down with a view to moving into coaching. Now is the time for someone new to make an impact at this level for a hard-working Swedish side.
Austria vs Sweden Prediction: Austria 1-1 Sweden
Neither of these sides is overly-blessed with international goalscoring talent, the days of Toni Polster and Henrik Larsson being very much in the past now. We may see something of a clash of styles, with Austria’s more possession-based game coming up against a more direct approach from their visitors. Although Austria are favourites with most bookies, this seems more based on their home advantage than footballing reasons. We’d expect an even game here, and to see that reflected in the scoreline.
Our recommended tip: Schaub To Score
Although there are bigger names in the Austrian squad, there can be no denying the happy knack Koln midfielder Louis Schaub has of popping up with goals at this level. Through nine international appearances the German-born playmaker has scored five times, grabbing the winner on three occasions. He’s a very generous 18/5 (4.60) with 888sport to make it six in ten here, and is likely to start the match. For comparison, Austrian football legend Toni Polster scored 44 times for his country across an international career spanning 18 years and 95 caps, so Schaub is off to a decent start.
The sides have met numerous times over the years, most recently in a pair of qualifying fixtures for Euro 2016. The most recent game came in Stockholm and saw Austria outclass their opponents. Midfielder David Alaba got the ball rolling with a penalty on nine minutes, and Martin Harnik came off his wing to add a second shortly before half time.
The struggle continued for Sweden in the second period, with Marc Janko slotting home a third before Harnik completed the misery with his second, and Austria’s fourth. While Zlatan Ibrahimovic did pull one back for the home side, it was nothing more than an injury-time consolation.
Top 3 Bookies
Players to watch: David Alaba & Viktor Lindelof
A starter at Bayern Munich, Alaba is the closest thing Austria have to a superstar. Though he’s a full-back at club level, he’s more likely to feature at the base of the Austrian midfield and will be crucial both for his defensive interventions and his ability to start moves when the hosts have the ball. He also takes a mean penalty, something Swedish fans will know better than most – he’s scored from the spot in the teams’ last two meetings.
Lindelof has been the focus of much attention in the Swedish press and the UK, his struggles for Manchester United having attracted plenty of negative coverage. He’s received little support from United manager Jose Mourinho, but tends to perform admirably at international level where the pressure is rarely so extreme. A good runout here would help his confidence, and he’s certainly capable of it, especially with the steadying influence of Granqvist by his side.