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Group B: Italy v Sweden preview

Håkan Ericson says his Sweden underdogs have "great expectations" in Group B despite facing an Italy side whose coach Luigi Di Biagio is demanding a winning start.

Sweden players training at the Ander Stadium ahead of their meeting with Italy
Sweden players training at the Ander Stadium ahead of their meeting with Italy ©UEFA.com

• Five-time winners Italy start Group B campaign against Sweden
• Swedes looking to avenge play-off loss to Italy for 2013 finals
• Håkan Ericson has "great expectations" for group underdogs
• Luigi Di Biagio: "It's very important to start on right foot"
• Di Biagio's selection dilemmas include Alessio Romagnoli or Matteo Bianchetti at centre-back

Qualifying campaign (including play-off)
P10 W7 D1 L2 F23 A9 (Group 9 winners)
Qualifying top scorer: Andrea Belotti (6)

Sweden: P10 W6 D1 L3 F24 A17 (Group 7 winners)
Qualifying top scorer: John Guidetti (4), Isaac Kiese Thelin (4)

Form guide (including friendlies, most recent first)

Possible lineups
Italy: Bardi; Zappacosta, Rugani, Romagnoli, Biraghi; Sturaro, Viviani, Cataldi; Berardi, Belotti, Battocchio.

Sweden: Carlgren; Nilsson Lindelöf, Milošević, Helander, Augustinsson; Khalili, Hiljemark, Lewicki, Quaison; Guidetti, Kiese Thelin.
Doubtful: Kiese Thelin (heel)

Luigi Di Biagio, Italy coach
It is very important for us start on the right foot. Sweden have got some very interesting players like Guidetti and Kiese Thelin in attack, while Oscar Hiljemark is a very good midfielder. However, we are not afraid.

I have several doubts because all the players are in good physical condition. Matteo Bianchetti is a key element for us but I will decide tomorrow who will play in defence. I'm not sure yet about the choices. Federico Bernardeschi is improving day after day and this is a good omen for him and for us.

We will play more than one game in this tournament so every player has to be ready. I remember the game against Sweden [a 2-0 win at UEFA EURO 2000] when I scored. Sweden are a lucky team for me.

Håkan Ericson, Sweden coach
We are ready but of course we have a very, very difficult group with three very good teams – they were ranked two, three and four and we were ranked seven. Everyone thinks we don't have a chance but we have had good results in the last couple of years. We have drawn with Denmark and lost to France away but then it's nine victories. We have great expectations for ourselves. We had had good results and think we can succeed again.

[On the 4-2 aggregate loss to Italy in 2012] Two years ago the Italy team was better than us. We know they're a good team again, but we are also. We have done some homework and, regarding our failures in some situations against Italy, I have tried to prepare the team so they don't repeat them again.

Senior internationals in squad

Sweden: Isaac Kiese Thelin (5), Oscar Hiljemark (6), Oscar Lewicki (4), Robin Quaison (5), Alexander Milošević (4), Branimir Hrgota (3), Ludwig Augustinsson (2), John Guidetti (2), Simon Gustafson (2), Sebastian Holmén (2), Mikael Ishak (2)

Match fact
  Italy defeated Sweden over two legs in the U21 EURO final in 1992 as the Azzurrini picked up the first of their record five titles at this level. Check out the details and much more in our extensive match background.

Who made our dream U21 XI?