Preview: Sweden v Switzerland
Sweden chasing first quarter-final spot since 1994
Win would see Switzerland back into last eight after 64 years
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This is a huge opportunity for both Sweden and Switzerland, and no doubt they know it. While hopes were of course high after positive qualifying campaigns – albeit via the playoffs – there is now a ticket into the last eight which both will feel fully capable of grasping.
It’s 24 years since Sweden found themselves in the last eight, on the way to a bronze medal at USA 1994, while the Swiss haven’t seen a FIFA World Cup™ quarter-final since 1954, when they were the hosts.
Both have enjoyed their high points in Russia so far – Sweden with that emphatic second half against Mexico, Switzerland in dramatically beating Serbia – but they’ll be sincerely hoping they have something left in the tank.
Suspensions could well play a key role. Vladimir Petkovic’s side will be missing key defenders Fabian Schaer and captain Stephan Lichtsteiner, while Janne Andersson will be without Sebastian Larsson.
Team reporter analysis Alexandra Jonson with Sweden [Follow: Twitter | Facebook] After a glance at their FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, we can see that Sweden once again arrive as underdogs, and the players know it. It’s a situation they’ve come not only to accept but enjoy. The defence will once again be key, but scoring three goals against Mexico was an important display of just how effective and dangerous they can be. The team is harmonious, going into the match with nothing to lose and their desire to keep the World Cup journey alive is huge.
Alan Schweingruber with Switzerland [Follow: Twitter | Facebook] The Swiss have made a habit of starting badly in their matches so far, so the very last thing they will want is for that trend to continue against Sweden. They know that Sweden will bring physical strength, so they will want to dominate the game right from the start. It will be interesting to see if Lang and Djourou slot seamlessly into the back four to cover for their suspended team-mates.
Did you know? Despite meeting 29 times in the last 98 years, with the Swiss edging the record with 11 wins to ten, this is the first time the sides have ever met at a major international competition.
Possible line-ups Sweden: Robin Olsen; Mikael Lustig, Victor Lindelöf, Andreas Granqvist, Ludwig Augustinsson; Viktor Claesson, Gustav Svensson, Albin Ekdal, Emil Forsberg; Marcus Berg, Ola Toivonen
Switzerland: Yann Sommer; Michael Lang, Johan Djourou, Manuel Akanji, Ricardo Rodriguez; Valon Behrami, Granit Xhaka; Xherdan Shaqiri, Blerim Dzemaili, Steven Zuber; Josip Drmic
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