Sweden target Swiss scalp

Sweden target Swiss scalp
epa06844205 Ludwig Augustinsson (L) of Sweden in action against Miguel Layun (R) of Mexico during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group F preliminary round soccer match between Mexico and Sweden in Ekaterinburg, Russia, 27 June 2018.

by Graeme Jackson

Tuesday Jul 03, 2018. 13:09

Sweden will look to claim the scalp of Switzerland when the teams meet in a 2018 World Cup last 16 clash at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday, July 3, kick-off at 16h00 CAT.

Sweden have emerged as one of the surprise packages of the first round, topping Group F ahead of Mexico, South Korea and Germany. The ‘Blue-Yellow’ edged Korea 1-0, were unlucky to lose to Germany and then produced a stunning performance to crush Mexico 3-0 and claim first place on the standings.

Coach Janne Andersson’s side are not the most gifted at Russia 2018, but they are well organised, resourceful and disciplined – and they now have a shot at getting into the final eight of a World Cup for the first time since 1994.

Switzerland have also raised eyebrows with their performances in the group stage. The ‘Rossocrociati’ first held Brazil to a 1-1 draw, before showing real class and character to pick up a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Serbia. They closed out the first round with a 2-2 draw against Costa Rica.

Vladimir Petkovic’s side have a fine blend of technical excellence, physical power and impressive determination. It is only their discipline which has let them down thus far: several of their players were fined for politically-charged gestures in the win over Serbia, while they will be missing experienced defenders Stephan Lichsteiner and Fabian Schar due to suspensions.

The key players for Sweden are veteran defender and captain Andreas Granqvist, who has scored two goals from the penalty spot and symbolises their disciplined organisation, as well as attacking midfielder Emil Forsberg, who has struggled to produce his best form but will back himself to perform on the big stage.

For the Swiss, defender Ricardo Rodriguez’s experience will be key in the absence of their suspended players, Granit Xhaka’s power in midfield should lay the platform for them to boss the engine room, and Xherdan Shaqiri’s unpredictability will be the ‘ace up their sleeve’ as far as breaking down Sweden’s defence is concerned.

In head-to-head terms, Sweden and Switzerland have met in 40 matches, according to FIFA’s statistics database. The ‘Rossocrociati’ have claimed 11 wins compared to 10 for the ‘Blue-Yellow’, while seven games have been drawn.

This will be the teams’ first meeting at the World Cup, while their last game overall was a friendly in Malmo in March 2002 which ended in a 1-1 draw.

Sweden v Switzerland – head-to-head

Matches played 28

Sweden wins 10

Switzerland wins 11

Draws 7

Sweden goals 46

Switzerland goals 42

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