Sweden beat Italy 1-0 on aggregate in the playoffs to secure their spot in the 2018 World Cup

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Sweden World Cup Fixtures, Squad, Group, Guide

Sweden vs South Korea (18th June) 

Without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden are in a World Cup without a recognised superstar. They face South Korea later today. Match preview here

Sweden Starting XI: 1 Robin Olsen, 2 Mikael Lustig, 4 Andreas Granqvist, 6 Ludwig Augustinsson, 7 Sebastian Larsson (13 Gustav Svensson 81) , 8 Albin Ekdal (15 Oscar Hijlemark 71), 9 Marcus Berg, 10 Emil Forsberg, 17 Viktor Claesson, 18 Pontus Jansson, 20 Ola Toivonen (22 Isaac Kiese Thelin 77)

South Korea Starting XI: 23 Cho Hyun-woo, 2 Lee Yong, 6 Park Joo-ho (12 Kim Min-woo 28), 7 Son Heung-min, 9 Kim Shin-wook (15 Jung Woo-young 66), 11 Hwang Hee-chan, 13 Koo Ja-cheol (10 Lee Seung-woo 73), 16 Ki Sung-yueng, 17 Lee Jae-sung, 19 Kim Young-gwon, 20 Jang Hyun-soo

Niznhy Novgorod

Sweden 1 South Korea 0

Scorers

Sweden: Granqvist 65pen

South Korea: none

Match overview

Sweden won their opening game for the first time since 1958 after edging out South Korea thanks to Andreas Granqvist’s VAR-awarded penalty in the second half.

The Swedes had fashioned the better chances in the first half but lacked a cutting edge as they tried to find a way past Korea’s third-choice keeper Cho Hyun-woo. 

Granqvist, the Swedish captain, dispatched the spot-kick in confident fashion and it was fitting that a defender scored the only goal of such a tight game.

Young substitute Lee Seung-woo gave Korea a lift in the final quarter but they failed to unlock a Swedish defence that was missing Victor Lindelof, a late withdrawal with a virus

Matter of fact

This was the 100th World Cup match featuring an Asian side. 

Talking point

VAR was used to award the game’s only goal. The referee had a clear view of what was an obvious penalty, prompting suggestions and concerns that he had ducked out of the decision, preferring to rely on the VAR calling back the decision.  

Stats

Sweden/South Korea

Possession (%): 52/48

Goal attempts: 15/5

Attempts on target: 5/2

Corners: 6/5

Fouls: 20/23

Pass accuracy (%): 84/78

Distance covered (km): 102/103

Sweden World Cup Guide 

Amid all the euphoria of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup due to their remarkable play-off victory over Italy, it should not be forgotten how impressive Sweden were in the group phase, pipping Holland to the runners-up spot, beating France in Solna and being undefeated at home. Under coach Janne Andersson, they are first and foremost a highly effective defensive unit. The proof? Their seven clean sheets.

Key Moments in Qualifying

Jun 2016
The inimitable Zlatan Ibrahimovic retires from international football. After years of everything revolving around their talismanic superstar, coach Andersson has no other option but to cultivate a greater team ethic.
Sep 2016
Sweden’s solidity and flair for a counter-attack is there for all to see in a 1-1 draw at home to Holland in the opening qualifier. The Dutch enjoyed the bulk of possession, completed twice as many passes and had far more shots on goal, yet still they could not force the win.
Jun 2017
Fighting back from a goal down, they come of age in beating France 2-1. The injury-time winner is scored by striker Ola Toivonen, who plays in France for Toulouse.
Nov 2017
Deploying the sort of catenaccio tactics that Italian sides used to be famous for, Sweden overcome the Azzurri in the play-offs to reach the finals for the first time since 2006.

Sweden World Cup Group

Sweden are the third team in Group F, alongside Germany, Mexico, and South Korea.

Sweden World Cup Friendlies

On the 24th of March Sweden lost to Chile, and then lost to Romania a few days later. A Scandinavian battle with Christian Eriksen and Denmark is on the 2nd of June, and resulted in a 0-0 draw. Finally they welcome Peru a week later on the 9th.

  • 24th March – Chile (lost 2-1)
  • 28th March – Romania (lost 1-0)
  • 2nd June – Denmark (drew 0-0)
  • 9th June – Peru (drew 0-0)

Sweden World Cup Fixtures

Sweden open their World Cup account against South Korea on the 18th of June. Followed by Germany five days later and Mexico four days after that.

The Coach

Janne Andersson, age 55 (20.09.62)
Appointed in June 2016 on a three-year contract, he was brought in to replace Eric Hamren at the end of Sweden’s Euro 2016 campaign. He began his coaching career at fourth-tier Alets IK, then took charge at Laholms FK, Halmstads, Orgryte and Norrkoping, leading the latter to the 2015 Swedish title.

2016: Andersson was appointed in 2016 on a three-year deal (Getty Images)

The Players
Star
Attacking midfielder Emil Forsberg is by far the team’s most imaginative element, nominally lining up on the left side but constantly looking to cut inside.
Stalwarts
Back-four organiser and skipper Andreas Granqvist has been a national-team warrior for a decade. Ola Toivonen’s flair can produce game-changing moments.
Missing
Scorer of the winning goal against Italy, Jakob Johansson damaged cruciate ligaments in the second leg and could be a doubt for the finals.
Debuts
Defensive midfielder Alexander Fransson made his competitive bow in the 1-1 draw with Holland, while striker Samuel Armenteros was handed a short cameo in the 3-2 loss to Bulgaria.

Sweden World Cup Squad

Final World Cup Squad – 

GOALKEEPERS: Robin Olsen (Copenhagen), Karl-Johan Johnsson (Guingamp), Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Swansea).

DEFENDERS: Mikael Lustig (Celtic), Victor Lindelof (Manchester United), Andreas Granqvist (Krasnador), Martin Olsson (Swansea), Ludwig Augustinsson (Werder Bremen), Filip Helander, Emil Krafth (both Bologna), Pontus Jansson (Leeds United).

MIDFIELDERS: Sebastian Larsson (Hull), Albin Ekdal (Hamburg), Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig), Gustav Svensson (Seattle Sounders), Oscar Hiljemark (Genoa), Viktor Claesson (Krasnador), Marcus Rohden (Crotone), Jimmy Durmaz (Toulouse).

FORWARDS: Marcus Berg (Al Ain), John Guidetti (Alaves), Ola Toivonen (Toulouse), Isaac Kiese Thelin (Waasland-Beveren).

Sweden World Cup Injuries

We will update you with all the injuries regularly.

Creative: Forsberg is the brain of the Swedish attack (Getty Images)

The Unanswered Questions

Would Janne Andersson ever be tempted with a back three?
Hell might freeze over first. A 4-4-2 system is embedded within the soul of the Swedes. It’s the system in which they feel the most comfortable and secure.

Is there a risk of first-choice striker Marcus Berg becoming rusty now that he no longer plays his club football in Europe?
Despite moving from Panathinaikos to Al Ain in the UAE in the summer he was impressive against Italy. Andersson loves the front-line blend of Berg and Toivonen, with the former as the forward threat and the latter more likely to come deeper.

comeback: Could we be seeing Zlatan comeback for 2018? It is unlikely (Getty Images)

 

Which players could make a late charge for the squad?
Promising centre-forward Kerim Mrabti has a number of backers, while midfielder Kristoffer Olsson is pushing hard, as is winger Sam Larsson.

If Emil Forsberg was injured, could Sweden cope?
No one else is available with his speed and eye for a killer through ball. The only alternative would be Sam Larsson.

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