Our prediction for this Nations League match:
Friends Arena will host Saturday’s Nations League clash between Sweden and Croatia, the two teams who have been struggling in the UEFA competition this season. The Swedes suffered a loss in each of their first four group games, but a win over Croatia could see them climb to third place in the standings. Filip Helander has overcome his injury, while Marcus Danielson is back to contention after recovering from coronavirus.
Midtjylland rising star Jens-Lys Michel Cajuste could make his Sweden debut against Croatia, while Manchester United blocked defender Victor Lindelof from joining the Sweden squad due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. The likes of Josip Juranovic, Toma Basic, Antonio-Mirko Colak, Lovre Kalinic, and Marin Pongracic have received their first call-ups for the visiting team, but none of them should start against Sweden. A man to watch in the away team will be Real Madrid ace Luka Modric, who is likely to help the Croats picked up one point from the match.
Highlighted Player (Martin Olsson):
Martin Olsson is an experienced Swedish defender who has spent his entire professional career up to date in England. The left-sided defender came through the Hogaborgs BK academy, but he went on to join Blackburn Rovers before turning 18. Olsson quickly managed to nail down a regular starting berth at Ewood Park, and he made a total of 117 league appearances ahead of signing for Norwich City in the summer of 2013.
The Swedish left-back couldn’t help the Canaries avoid relegation to the Championship, but he featured in 45 league games as they secured a straight return to the elite division. Olsson was at times linked with top European clubs, but a big club move never materialised for him, although there is still time for him to make the next step.
Also capable of playing on the left wing, Olsson scored 5 goals in just over 30 outings for the Sweden national team, making three appearances at the Euro 2012 finals in Ukraine and Poland.
Highlighted Team (Croatia):
While the national football team of Croatia also played international matches between 1940 and 1944, they only resumed their duties in 1990 after the country gained independence from Yugoslavia. Vatreni enjoyed a remarkable start on the international stage, winning the third place on their first ever World Cup appearance in France in 1998, while crashing out in the group stage at the 2002, 2006 and 2014 tournaments.
Croatia also reached the quarter-finals at the 1996 and 2008 European Championships, proving they are rightly considered one of Europe’s top sides at the start of the 21st century. Long-serving captain Darijo Srna is their most capped player with over 130 appearances for the national team, whereas former Real Madrid striker Davor Suker is one of their most famous players and top scorer with 45 goals.
Other notable footballers to have played for Croatia include Luka Modric, Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinecki, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic. Miroslav Blazevic and Slaven Bilic are the coaches that have been behind team’s biggest success stories up to date.