Zlatan to upstage Bale in battle of heavy hitters in Sweden v Wales

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It isn’t often that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out of the headlines and much of the latest gossip relates to a probable one-year deal being agreed with Manchester United for the forthcoming Premier League season.

The vibes are that he will sign for the Red Devils before the start of Euro 2016, with a salary agreement already reached between the club and the free agent. However, the Swedish striker apparently still wants confirmation about his squad status, while well-known agent Mino Raiola still needs to agree his fee.

Before the increasingly likely switch to Old Trafford is completed, Ibrahimovic has the small matter of partaking in Sweden’s final warm up ahead of Euro 2016 against Wales.

The friendly is interestingly in the sense that it pits in opposition two Euro 2016-competing nations which seem heavily reliant on the star performances of one individual.

Ibrahimovic has only featured in one of Sweden’s five friendlies in 2016, but prior to that found the target five times across his team’s last four qualifiers.

Meanwhile, Gareth Bale is undeniably Wales’ star man, but has only just hooked up with the squad following his involvement in Real Madrid’s Champions League final success over Atletico Madrid.

Bale hasn’t featured in any of Wales’ three friendlies since scoring in the final Euro 2016 qualifier against Andorra in October.

It is unknown if one, both or neither will play in Stockholm, given the risk of the star men picking up an injury on the eve of a major tournament. However, the fact that neither have been involved much of late means that managers need to work on tactics in a match environment to ensure they are playing to their strengths.

Sweden have only lost one of their last nine matches on home soil and so are understandable 1/1 favourites for success, with the Andorra victory representing Wales’ only triumph in six matches.

Chris Coleman proved himself tactically adept during qualifying with some productive tinkering in formations. It is 14/5 he orchestrates another here to give Wales the win.

But, considering that Wales have also failed to register in either of their latest two away outings with Bosnia and Ukraine, Ibrahimovic has to be the better bet to be on target in the clash.

Zlatan is 6/5 to score in the 90 minutes, 7/2 to bag the opener and 11/2 to net two or more goals. Bale is 17/10, 9/2 and 17/2 in the same betting markets.

Alternatively, the wincast of Ibrahimovic scoring in a Sweden victory is a decent 11/5, while the scorecast of him breaking the deadlock in a 2-0 Swedish success is available at 22/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.