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France favourites as they host Sweden minus skipper Ibrahimovic

| 18.11.2014

Sweden (6/1 outsiders to win with Coral) will likely be without skipper and record scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as they travel to face France in what should be a feisty friendly encounter.

Inspirational Ibrahimovic netted his 51st international goal last time out as the Nordic nation split the spoils with Montenegro, but has now reportedly returned to club PSG as he continues to struggle with a heel injury.

History certainly favours Les Bleus, who have only lost to their visitors five times in 13 encounters. However, Didier Deschamps’ side will certainly be buoyed Ibrahimovic’s absence. The Ligue 1 superstar and Sunderland man Sebastian Larsson (16/1 to close the scoring again) were both on the scoresheet, as Sweden triumphed 2-0 last time these two teams met.

In a further fitness blow for Erik Hamren, Celtic full back Mikael Lustig is also sidelined, and will likely be replaced by Borussia Monchengladbach man Oscar Wendt in the starting XI.

However, the Swedes have talent waiting in the wings. Before departing their camp, Ibrahimovic gave the thumbs up to possible striker replacement John Guidetti. The 33-year-old said: “He has played, made many goals and it’s good that he lets his feet speak. That’s the way he should go on, let your feet speak for themselves. You just have to continue.”

On-loan Bhoys forward Guidetti has been in prolific form, netting nine times across all competitions in 10 games for his club, but did not feature against Montenegro. A vacancy up front in this friendly test against France could be the 22-year-old’s chance to impress, and Guidetti is 2/1 to score anytime and seize his moment to shine.

The Swedes have just seen their Under-21s celebrate victory over their Les Bleus counterparts, but the senior squad will face a much sterner test against the home side.

France, who have automatically qualified as hosts of Euro 2016, are understandably odds-on favourites at 4/9 to win,after remaining unbeaten so far during their warm-up to the tournament.

Les Bleus did stutter to a draw against Albania last time out, and also to Serbia earlier this season, illustrating they can struggle to break down gritty sides. However, Frances’ three wins in their last five outings include large scalps such as Spain and Portugal.

Atletico Madrid attacker Antoine Griezmann has racked up two goals in his last two caps, making him an excellent 9/2 to fire home first or 6/5 to score anytime.

The flying forward will likely be complimented by crafty Real Madrid frontman Karim Benzema, who is available at 3/1 to bag a brace or better, whilst Paul Pogba will provide the midfield thrust.

Powerful Juventus star Pogba is also 11/4 to be on target anytime after netting two in his last four appearances for Deschamps’ men.



Holly Thackeray

Holly is a member of the content team, and can often be found on the sports desk writing about favourite topics Serie A and East Asian footballing nations. A recent darts convert, she is also a fully-fledged member of Barney's Army and a proud Leeds-born Manchester United fan.