In our Sweden Preview: World Cup 2018, we share our analysis about this Sweden team. While expectations are low about Sweden in this World Cup, they’re going to be a difficult defensive team to beat.
Sweden Preview: World Cup 2018
Goalkeepers: Robin Olsen, Karl-Johan Johnsson
Defenders: Mikael Lustig, Victor Lindelof, Andreas Granqvist, Martin Olsson, Ludwig Augustinsson, Filip Helander, Emil Krafth, Pontus Jansson
Midfielders: Sebastian Larsson, Albin Ekdal, Emil Forsberg, Gustav Svensson, Oscar Hiljemark, Viktor Claesson, Marcus Rohden, Jimmy Durmaz
Forwards: Marcus Berg, Ola Toivonen, John Guidetti, Isaac Kiese-Thelin
- Manager: Janne Andersson
- Captain: Andreas Granqvist
- Best Finish: Runners-Up (1958)
Likely starting lineup
Having qualified for the 2018 World Cup following two colossal displays against Italy in the playoffs, the circus surrounding Zlatan Ibrahimovic making a return for Sweden seemed poised to crank into gear again.
But the manner in which Andersson ended any speculation about the veteran forward making a return to the national team in Russia said a lot about what this new Sweden setup is about. They’re a collective and a group ready to make sacrifices for the rest of the side, traits you wouldn’t naturally associate with the Los Angeles Galaxy man.
The blueprint instilled by Andersson has worked well and was there for all to see in the two games against Italy.
While there was hysteria surrounding Italy’s elimination, the performances turned in by the Swedes did go under the radar, as they defended expertly and limited a talented attack to few chances. It’s expected that tactic will be utilised again this summer.
Since the European Championship in 2016 Sweden have been able to build an XI that are so in-sync with one another. At the back Granqvist and Manchester United man Victor Lindelof have shone as a centre-back duo, while Marcus Berg and Ola Toivonen are on the same page at the top end of the pitch.
In the past Ibrahimovic may have brought a star quality to the team, although he would never knit things together in the way Emil Forsberg does drifting infield from the left flank. On the right, Viktor Claesson is an exciting player to keep an eye on too.
What they do lack is someone to manage matches in the middle of the park, with Andersson still likely to rely on Sebastian Larsson. In games against Germany and Mexico in particular, that may prove to be an issue.
Key Man – Emil Forsberg
While Sweden don’t have someone who can pull the strings from deep, if they can get the ball into the feet of Forsberg in the final third they boast a player who can make magical things happen.
The RB Leipzig man is the new talisman for Sweden, albeit in a totally different mode to Ibrahimovic. Away from the field he’s unlikely to big himself up too much, but every touch of the ball he takes fizzes with incision and ingenuity.
For Sweden the midfielder will typically start on the left side and is one of the few players within this rigid system with the license to wander. Forsberg is so intelligent in the way he crafts space for himself on the field, constantly testing the awareness of defensive midfielders, right-backs and centre-backs.
At club level players like Timo Werner benefit from the Swede’s expert vision on the ball on a regular basis. If Sweden are going to move into the last 16, forwards like Toivonen and Berg must capitalise on the good work of one of the most creative players in the competition.
Sweden’s Group Stage fixtures
Monday, June 18
Saturday, June 23
Wednesday, June 27
Sweden’s path to the final
If Sweden wins Group F, their Round of 16 game will be against the country that finishes second from Group E which will either be Brazil, Costa Rica, Serbia or Switzerland. If Sweden wins that Round of 16 game, Sweden will enter the quarterfinal stage with a game against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group H (Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan) and the team that finishes second in Group G (either England, Belgium, Panama, Tunisia). If Sweden advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the B1 vs. A2 versus D1 vs. C2 series.
If Sweden finishes second in Group F, Sweden will play the team that finishes first in Group E (either Costa Rica, Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia). If Sweden wins that game, it would be in the quarterfinal against the team that is victorious between the winner of Group G (either England, Belgium, Panama or Tunisia) and the team that finishes second in Group H (either Poland, Senegal, Colombia or Japan). If Sweden advances to the semi-final stage, it’ll play the winner of the quarterfinal that comes out of the A1 vs. B2 versus C1 vs. D2 series.
Sweden World Cup shirt (home)
Show your support for the Swedes in 2018 with the official Sweden Home Shirt 2018 from adidas.
Unveiled in the FIFA World Cup play-off with Italy, this new home jersey whispers echoes of overseas adventure – its design reminiscent of the central pattern, collar and 3 Stripe combo used at Italia ’90.
Sweden World Cup shirt (away)
Reversing the home kit look to keep the iconic Swedish colors in play, the Sweden 2018 Away Shirt goes heavy on the blue with yellow reserved for the adidas 3 stripes on the shoulders, the neck lining and the iconic woven crest. A “Sverige” graphic on the back adds a unique touch of national pride.
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