Preview of the Olympic Final: France v Sweden

So it has come down to this.  Where once were twelve, now there are two.  Today’s final in the incongruously-named Basketball Arena will be between two sides who played in their semi finals as if it were their destiny to be in gold medal game.  There the similarity ends because France are current Olympic and World champions and Sweden have not won a major title in a decade.

Defence, in particular goalkeeping, won the day in the both semi finals: Mattais Andersson stopped 13 shots as Sweden blocked Hungary but Thierry Omeyer topped that by saving 19 of 41 shots against Croatia.  He was particularly effective in the opening ten minutes as France built a comfortable lead that meant that the Croats were always chasing the game.

Despite the similarities in the building blocks of their semi final victories it is hard to see past France who will surely have too many weapons for Sweden.  For Sweden to win they will need Omeyer to have an off day, they will need somehow to get a steady flow of fast breaks (they had 6 against Hungary, scoring 4; France allowed Croatia only one) and they will also need to up their solidity at the back.  France are not Hungary, they will be harder to tempt into rushing their game.  France can also spread their scoring personnel more broadly than Sweden.

But this is a final and strange things happen in finals.  That said, something beyond strange will need to happen for France to lose and so my prediction is that France will hit the front early and stay there, winning by 4.

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