After throwing away a lead last time out for the second time in this 2022 World Cup Qualification (WCQ) tournament, Greece are going to have to execute a history-making turnaround to reach their fourth World Cup (WC) finals lest their drought without a WC or Euros appearance will extend to eight years. However, no UEFA nation in the 21st century has qualified for a WC after failing to win their first three matches, with Ukraine (2014) the only team to reach the second round playoff stage after doing the same, but winning six of their last seven qualifiers.
Given that Greece have conceded more corner kicks and total shots in all three 1-1 stalemates in their campaign, perhaps they’re fortunate not to be even further off the pace. Of particular frustration for manager John van’t Schip, a former Dutch winger, would be Greece’s inability to score in big numbers, as they’ve not recorded 3+ goals in a game from 35 attempts since the start of 2018!
Sweden avenged their shock exit from Euro 2020 by handing Spain their first WCQ defeat in 28 years (66 matches) and are well on track for back-to-back WC finals appearances for the first time since 2002 & 2006.
Having drawn with the Netherlands in the 2018 WCQs and with Germany in the 2014 WCQs, both inside their first three games, Sweden are developing a habit of causing early shockwaves. Combine that with an undefeated W4, D1 record as favourites in an opposition country since the 2018 WC, and their case for qualification currently appears insurmountable.
Players to watch: Vangelis Pavlidis is Greece’s last goalscorer at home and also found the back of the net against Switzerland earlier in this month, while Sweden’s Alexander Isak registered a first-half goal in their most recent away WCQ.
- Greece’s form in last 5 matches: DLWDD.
- Sweden’s form in last 5 matches: WWDWW
PREDICTION: Away/Draw and Over 1.5