Friday 10 Nov

Sweden vs Italy - Match Preview

09 Nov 2017 Ed Mackey INTERNATIONAL: World Cup Qualification, UEFA Playoffs
INTERNATIONAL: World Cup Qualification, UEFA Playoffs

Sweden

  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L

vs

Kick-off
19:45 GMT
10 November 2017

Italy

  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W

Kick-off
19:45 GMT 10 November 2017

With the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia just around the corner, we still don’t know for sure all of the sides that will compete in the tournament. However, in a week’s time, it will be crystal clear as the playoffs take place over the next seven days and the final nations will secure their places for the next World Cup. Two of the sides who meet in the playoffs are Italy and Sweden and the first-leg will be played in Stockholm before the second-leg at the Stadio Olimpico on Monday.

STATS

  • Sweden did brilliantly to finish second in Group A as they beat the Netherlands to a place in the playoffs as France ran away with top spot. The defining moment of their group success saw them inflict France’s only defeat of the whole campaign as a 94th-minute winner from Ola Toivonen handed them a 2-1 victory. They beat the Netherlands to the play-off position on goal difference and the 8-0 win over Luxembourg was vital to that.
  • Italy will be disappointed to have their World Cup qualification hopes resting on a play-off but they couldn’t knock 2010 champions, Spain, off the perch as the Spanish dropped just two points in their whole qualifying campaign. Italy didn’t face any other competition from the rest of the group and there were 10 points separating them and third-placed, Albania.
  • After Zlatan Ibrahimović’s international retirement, Marcus Berg stepped up to the plate and scored more goals than any other player in Group A, which included a very strong French attack.
  • Ciro Immobile was in great form for Italy and he ended as the leading goal scorer in Group G, ahead of four Spanish players.

HEAD TO HEAD

In terms of recent meetings between Italy and Sweden, it doesn’t make good reading for the hosts, you have to go back to 1998 to the last time Sweden got a win over Italy. They haven’t won in the last five matches with the Italians and with four wins in those fixtures, Italy will be very confident. The last match-up came at the 2016 European Championships and it was Antonio Conte’s Italy side who advanced through to the last 16 with a 1-0 win.

SWEDEN NEWS

Sweden must avoid defeat in the home leg if they want any chance of progression to the World Cup group stages and with a relatively strong side, they may well do that. Emil Forsberg and Marcus Berg will be the main danger men and Italy must keep them both quiet to have the best chance of winning the match.

Latest matches: Sweden

10.10.2017 Worl Netherlands Sweden 2:0 L
07.10.2017 Worl Sweden Luxembourg 8:0 W
03.09.2017 Worl Belarus Sweden 0:4 W
31.08.2017 Worl Bulgaria Sweden 3:2 L
13.06.2017 Inte Norway Sweden 1:1 D

ITALY NEWS

Despite finding themselves in a World Cup play-off, Italy are undoubtedly one of the world’s strongest squads and their attacking options are incredible. Andrea Belotti, Ciro Immobile and Simone Zaza are all at the top of their games in Europe’s major leagues and each of them could start.

Latest matches: Italy

09.10.2017 Worl Albania Italy 0:1 W
06.10.2017 Worl Italy Macedonia 1:1 D
05.09.2017 Worl Italy Israel 1:0 W
02.09.2017 Worl Spain Italy 3:0 L
11.06.2017 Worl Italy Liechtenstein 5:0 W

SUMMARY

Italy haven’t missed a World Cup for 60 years and surely they won’t be missing next year’s competition in Russia as they look big favourites to qualify. They are expected to make the group stages but Sweden will put up a good fight on their own turf in the first-leg and the match could easily go either way. Italy’s defensive line should be far too strong for Sweden’s attack and a clean sheet for the visitors would put them in a very good position.

About the author - Ed Mackey

Experienced sports writer and huge Leicester City fan.

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