Preview: Sweden v Switzerland

Neither Switzerland nor Sweden is accustomed to taking part in World Cup quarter-finals, but as the teams prepare to face off at the St. Petersburg Stadium, they each stand on the verge of booking a spot among the world’s best eight teams.

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FIFA World Cup
03 July 2018
Round of 16
Venue: St. Petersburg Stadium
Kick-off: 16h00 (GMT+2)

Referee: D. Skomina
Assistant Referees: J. Praprotnik, R. Vukan
Fourth official: N. Shukralla

Previous encounter:

Sweden 1-1 Switzerland (Friendly) 27/03/2002

Sweden goalscorer: M. Allback (29′)

Switzerland goalscorer: R. Cabanas (54′)

Players to watch:

Andreas Granqvist has led Sweden with distinction from the back, helping them to two clean sheets and scoring two penalties.

Granqvist has taken on the difficult task of leading Sweden in the post-Zlatan Ibrahimovic era. The team arguably does not have a superstar left in it, but perhaps this is precisely what makes them strong.

As the 33-year-old pointed out himself, Janne Andersson’s charges are performing even better now than they usually did with Ibrahimovic leading the attack.

Switzerland has also shown strong team cohesion at the World Cup, but theirs is a squad which is not short of household names.

Midfielder Granit Xhaka played in every single one of Arsenal’s 38 Premier League games in 2017/18. His ability both as a playmaker and a shield for the defence will come in handy.

Further forward, Xherdan Shaqiri picked up eight goals and seven assists for Stoke City in their unsuccessful bid to avoid Premier League relegation. Whether or not his teammates are at their best, Sweden will have to be wary of him.

Team form and manager quotes:

Sweden is on a high following their 3-0 drubbing of Mexico, which saw them clinch top spot in Group F. This came after a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Germany, which followed a 1-0 win over South Korea.

Janne Andersson has maximised the potential of his squad in order to get them through tricky patches in qualification and the group stage. He has encouraged his team to be at the top of their game once again.

“It’s a situation again where we have to reach our personal best,” he said.

“I know I keep on repeating it, but I think it’s a very good description on what is needed from us both as individuals and as a team.

“We need to reach our absolute highest level, then we will have the chance to beat Switzerland as well.”

Switzerland began the World Cup with a creditable 1-1 draw with Brazil and a 2-1 comeback win over Serbia, but a 2-2 draw with Costa Rica brought them back down to earth.

“We’ve been very fortunate so far, that is true, but what we’ve seen throughout the tournament is that in spells we have been playing very well,” coach Vladimir Petkovic told a press conference.

“We’ve seen that we have been dangerous so far in the second half of the game.

“This time around, we want to keep up that pressure from the start, and I think that is going to happen.”

Team news:

Both teams will have to make do despite suspensions to key players. The experienced Sebastian Larsson misses out for Sweden, while Fabian Schar and captain Stephan Lichtsteiner have been sidelined for the Swiss.

Michael Lang and Johan Djourou are expected to be tasked with keeping out a Swedish attack which has proved surprisingly effective at the World Cup, even in the absence of Ibrahimovic.