FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 – Sweden vs Switzerland PREVIEW
Two nations who have not tasted world cup success in decades. This is Sweden’s chance to get past the R16 stage for the first time since the magical 94, meanwhile Switzerland haven’t gotten past this stage since 1954. An opportunity for both sides to make a deep run, but only one will advance. Switzerland have been tipped slight favourites, but the way Sweden have played you’d have to say this is 50/50. Will Swedes recreate the magic of 1994, or will Switzerland reach their first quarter final in 64 years?
It truly has been a rollercoaster ride for Sweden so far. A team who went from excitement to heartbreak to excitement again. They topped the group that involved Germany, Mexico and South Korea after knocking off the Dutch and Italy on their way to the tournament. It truly has been an incredible ride for Sweden and given the bracket they’re put in, they might not be done. It’s a chance for Sweden to go far and maybe even repeat the magic of 1994 when they achieved 3rd place. To summarise Sweden’s group stages they started off with a 1-0 win against South Korea, they dominated the game, should’ve scored more and got a deserved win. In the second game, the rollercoaster ride took a bad turn when they lost 2-1 to Germany right at the death to Toni Kroos free kick goal. Sweden took the lead and looked certain to at least hold Germany to a draw, but unfortunately they lost right at the death and it made everyone think that Swedes were done there having to face red hot Mexico while Germany would have the minnows South Korea. However, there is a reason why games are played and Sweden smashed Mexico 3-0, turning the tables upside down and putting all the pressure on Mexico and Germany. Not only did Sweden beat Mexico 3-0, but Germany lost 2-0 to South Korea and that meant that Sweden not only made R16, but topped their group while Germany got eliminated. Sweden were basically involved in the Dutch, Italian and German elimination so far.
Sweden have shown a lot of strengths during this tournament. Most important of all would have to be team unity. Sweden are more of a team now and you could probably say that’s down to Zlatan not being here anymore, they’ve been finding much more success without him. Defensively, Sweden have been amazing, kept two clean sheets including one against red hot Mexico, they defended really well against Germany, just got unlucky with the free kick in the end. You could say creativity has been a bit of an issue, but the Swedes still managed to score in every game including 3 against Mexico and although their strikers Toivonen and Berg haven’t hit the ground running, other players have contributed in scoring. Sweden’s best player so far in this tournament has been their CB Granqvist, not only has he been a great captain and a rock at the back, but he’s also Sweden’s top scorer with 2 very important penalties. Larsson and Forsberg have been very good in Sweden’s midfield too, however Larsson will miss out the game due to suspension which could turn out a big blow. All around, Sweden have been really good in this tournament and they have every right to believe that they can go even further now.
The Swiss have had a solid world cup so far advancing from a very tough group that involved favourites Brazil, a solid side in Serbia and former quarter finalists Costa Rica. Switzerland ended the group in second place going undefeated with 1W 2D 0L. Switzerland started off by drawing 1-1 against the tournament favourites Brazil which you can say was their best performance, they were down in that game too but showed good mental strength to get back and then continue to show great organisation at the back to hold Brazil off and pick up a point. In the second game Switzerland beat Serbia 2-1. That game pretty much decided Switzerland advancing to the next round, they once again showed great mental strength by coming back from 1-0 down and turning the game upside down. Many would say Switzerland were lucky as Serbia got criminally denied a penalty, but they got that luck to go their way and then Swiss took their opportunity with a last minute winner. In the final game Switzerland looked poor. It was their only performance which you could say was below standards. They drew 2-2 with Costa Rica, relinquishing the lead twice and overall if you watched that game you’d know that Costa Rica created a lot of chances, probably more than Brazil and Serbia managed which is totally weird. That final game wasn’t the best performance by the Swiss, but it was still enough to advance and you’d think now they’ll work on fixing their problems that occurred against Costa Rica, especially at the back. Switzerland’s biggest strength so far has been their mental toughness, as mentioned they came back from 1-0 down in the first two games to pick up huge points which essentially helped them advance. Shaqiri and Xhaka’s moments of brilliance were key for the Swiss because they got them the key goals that helped them advanced. Defensively, Switzerland have been good for the most part, apart from the Costa Rica game. They’ve been a tough, physical side to deal with and coming up against Sweden they’ll match up well because they play similar styles. Switzerland can definitely dream about a deep run in this tournament now.
It’s going to be tactical battle between the two. You can probably expect Switzerland to hold more possession because they have slightly more gifted players, plus Sweden will be without one key midfielder in Larsson who they will miss massively in midfield. This will be a physical battle because both teams love to play that way, they’re tough, physical sides. Switzerland will miss two key defenders in this game due to match bans, these players being RB Lichtsteiner and CB Schar. These are huges losses for Switzerland and they will most likely get replaced by Michael Lang and Djourou. It’s something that Sweden can definitely expose, Switzerland not having their main backline and throwing players who haven’t played in there in that type of pressure in this game. As for Sweden, Larsson will either get replaced by Oscar Hiljemark or Gustav Svensson. Both sides will be missing key players, but essentially you’d have to give Sweden an advantage when it comes to suspensions since they only miss one while Swiss will miss two key defenders. Switzerland will be dangerous from set pieces and long balls which is something Switzerland must sniff out. Switzerland will rely on the brilliance of Shaqiri, Xhaka and other good players in Dzemaili and Behrami who have been good in this tournament. One weaknesses that the Swiss have had is a lack of good stikers play. Neither Embolo or Seferovic have shown up so far and that’s something they’ll have to figure coming up against the tough Swedes. This will be an intense match. A team that wins the physical battle, will most likely come out on top.
This is a tough match to call. It’s a 50/50 game. You’ve got both sides missing key players, they love to play a similar style, neither will commit bodies forward and play physical. You’d think that Switzerland may have a slight edge, but the way Sweden have played you wouldn’t bet against them, if not for that late goal by Kroos, they’d have gone unbeaten in one of the toughest groups. Sweden’s team unity is going to be immensely tough to break down, same can be said about Switzerland too. We shouldn’t expect this to be a goal fest. The first goal could win this game. We’re going to stick with a prediction that leads to penalty shootout, but if we had to pick a winner however, we’ll give the edge to the Sweden.
ODDS – Decimal
Sweden Win (90 mins) – 3.10
Draw (90 mins) – 3.00
Switzerland Win (90 mins) – 2.70
To Qualify – Sweden 2.00 – Switzerland 1.75
KICK OFF – 3rd July 2018 – 3pm UK Time