2nd of July 2018 Author: Johnny Karp
Surprise Group F winners Sweden take on Switzerland on Tuesday at Saint-Petersburg Stadium in the first knockout round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The two teams have not met since a friendly match in 2002, which ended 1-1. Sweden had won the previous friendly match 2-0 in 2001, while the last victory for Switzerland in a direct match was in 1994. Overall, Sweden have won five times against Switzerland in all competitions, while the Swiss have tasted victory against Sweden on four occasions.
Sweden have done well to finish at the top of Group F, considering that reigning world champions Germany were the favourites in that group. Sweden started with a 1-0 victory over South Korea, then were quite unlucky to lose 2-1 against Germany and eventually secured qualification with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Mexico. Sebastian Larsson is suspended for Tuesday's match but he also picked up an injury during the game against Mexico and might be out for the remainder of the tournament.
Switzerland produced some impressive performances during the group stage and deservedly finished second behind Brazil in Group E. They started with a 1-1 draw against favourites Brazil, fighting back from 1-0 down, then completed another fightback to beat Serbia 2-1 and ended with a 2-2 draw against Costa Rica. The good thing for the Swiss is that they scored in every match, their flaw is that they have also conceded in each and every game so far. Things will be even more difficult for them on Tuesday as two essential defensive players are suspended, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Fabian Schar, while left winger Steven Zuber is an injury doubt.
Sweden: Olsen - Lustig, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson - Claesson, Svensson, Ekdal, Forsberg - Berg, Toivonen
Switzerland: Sommer - Lang, Djourou, Akanji, Rodriguez - Behrami, Xhaka - Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Embolo - Gavranovic
My prediction: Sweden to win 2-1, I don't trust the Swiss defence without Lichtsteiner and Schar.
Here are the odds for the match at Bet365:
Sweden win - 3.10
Draw - 3.00
Switzerland win - 2.70
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