Soccer-Swedes sitting pretty ahead of decisive Poland clash

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Sweden Training - Gothia Park Academy, Gothenburg, Sweden - June 21, 2021 Sweden's Victor Lindelof and Alexander Isak during training TT News Agency via REUTERS/Henrik Brunnsgard

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - Sweden will reach the knockout stages of Euro 2020 as unlikely Group E winners if they beat Poland on Wednesday, but it will be no easy task as their opponents need a victory to have any hope of keeping their last-16 dream alive.

The Group E winners will head to Hampden Park in Glasgow, where they will face one of the third-placed teams from groups A, B, C or D on June 29, and Sweden defender Mikael Lustig, who spent seven years at Scottish club Celtic, has his sights set on a return to the city.

"There'll definitely be Swedish fans there, there's a lot of Swedes living in Great Britain so they'll be able to travel there, and I have a lot of friends in Glasgow," Lustig told a news conference.

Lustig played a key role in Sweden's ultra-defensive display in their first outing against Spain, which ended 0-0, and they followed that up with a gritty 1-0 win over Slovakia to go top of the group.

Striker Alexander Isak has provided flashes of brilliance in the Swedish attack and Lustig is not surprised that he has attracted attention.

"When he gets up to speed it's almost impossible to stop him ... that's the kind of player you need when you're lying deep in a game, a player who can beat his man, suddenly the whole field opens up," Lustig explained.

Isak's strike partner Marcus Berg has faced criticism for his lack of goals, but Sweden coach Janne Andersson is not a man for tinkering with his starting selection and the 34-year-old will likely get the nod again ahead of Robin Quaison.

After losing their opener to Slovakia 2-1, Poland got their campaign back on track with a 1-1 draw against Spain, but they must beat Sweden to have any chance of reaching the knockout stage.

Robert Lewandowski got Poland's goal against Spain with a typical towering header, and the Swedish centre back pairing of Victor Lindelof and Marcus Danielson will likely have their hands full containing him in St Petersburg.

Spain play Slovakia in the group's other game, and a win there will secure them at least second spot and a place in the last 16, despite a slow start.

(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Toby Davis)

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