Italy vs Sweden preview: Conte targets early Azzurri qualification

Erik Hamren's Sweden will be hoping to prevent the Italians from progressing to the Euro 2016 round of 16 with a game to spare

Italy vs Sweden preview: Conte targets early Azzurri qualification
Italy vs Sweden preview: Gianluigi Buffon and Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be facing off for the final time at Euro 2016

Italy go into their second group game of Euro 2016 knowing that a win against Sweden would be enough to see them through to the round of 16 with a game in hand.

Antonio Conte's side produced one of the performances of the tournament so far as they beat dark horses Belgium 2-0 to sieze control of a difficult group, while the Swedes laboured to a one-all draw with the Republic of Ireland.

Team news

Conte could be forced into a defensive change after full-back Matteo Darmian was brought off in the second half of the Belgium game with a suspected injury, but goalscorer Graziano Pelle has passed a fitness test and is ready to play after picking up a knock of his own.

Mikael Lustig could miss out for Sweden but, despite Erik Hamren having no other injury problems to contend with, the Swedes could see some changes after an uninspiring start to the tournament.

That could mean a start for former Manchester City man John Guidetti alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic up top, as Sweden look to pose more of an offensive threat.

For Italy, Leonardo BonucciGiorgio ChielliniThiago Motta and Eder are all one booking from suspension, while young defender Victor Lindelof is walking the disciplinary tightrope for Sweden after picking up a yellow card in the first game.


These two sides have met twice in the past four European Championships, with Italy coming away with a win and a draw from those two encounters.

Alessandro del Piero scored a late winner in a 2-1 win for Italy during Euro 2000, before Ibrahimovic repeated the trick to snatch a draw in the closing minutes of a group game at Euro 2004.

Massimo Ambrossini tackles Henrik Larsson at Euro 2000 | Photo: Popperfoto/Getty
Massimo Ambrossini tackles Henrik Larsson at Euro 2000 | Photo: Popperfoto/Getty

Most recently, an experimental Italy side under the management of Marcello Lippi prevailed in a friendly in 2009. Juventus defender Chiellini scored the only goal of the game with a header in front of fewer than 20,000 fans in Cesena.

The managers

Italy boss Conte is confident that his side can complete the job and qualify for the next round despire some pre-tournament nay-sayers.

"I think I have a group of lads who are very focused and determined, and who take pride in doing things well," he said in his pre-match press conference.

"We have our feet firmly on the ground, preparing for tomorrow's game and looking for the win."

Conte was also keen to stress that his players would have to perform as a team to stop the Swedish attack, and brushed off any indication that Ibrahimovic would pose the sole threat. 

Hamren, meanwhile, admitted that while Italy do not have as many big names on their teamsheet as in the past, they will prove stern opposition for his Sweden side.

"They are going to be a tough challenge for us, but we're looking forward to it," he said. "Anything is possible in football.

"We probably won't get many chances so we have to take what we get. We expect Italy to have more possession. We have to run a lot, but we need to use our heads too."

Italy - Sweden gets underway at 2pm on Friday 17 June at Stadium Municipal, Toulouse.