Seven of the eight quarter-finalists in this year’s FIFA World Cup have been decided, with Sweden being the latest nation to book their ticket to the final eight. The Swedes went into this game off the back of a morale-boosting triumph over Mexico in their final group stage game, whereas Switzerland limped into the knockout stages with a draw against Costa Rica, and it was Sweden who came out as 1-0 victors.
Alas, the difference in confidence between the two sides was extremely evident from the word go as the Swedes came forward with much more intent than their opponents. Switzerland still had great opportunities to score but failed to take them, as Sweden registered a third clean sheet in four games at the tournament.
The first half was lively with both keepers making good saves to keep the scoreline goalless, and heading into half-time, the game was on a knife-edge. That was, until, Emil Forsberg’s shot deflected off of Manuel Akanji and went soaring into the top left-hand corner of the net. There was nothing that could’ve been done from that point on, and Sweden were then able to completely switch up their game plan in order to see the game out.
Haris Seferovic had a decent effort saved, but the overwhelming feeling as we look back on the game will be disappointment for Switzerland. Their primary sources in midfield, Xhaka and Behrami, couldn’t find their way into the game with Xhaka, in particular, being very one dimensional whenever he was on the ball.
As the game drew to an end the Swiss were throwing everything they had at Sweden, only for a counter-attack in the dying minutes to confirm the result as Michael Lang was sent off for taking down Martin Olsson who was clean through on goal. A free-kick was given on the edge of the box and after one final save, the full-time whistle blew to confirm that Sweden had progressed into the next round.
All of the talk before the game surrounding the Swedes was about Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and how he’d end up being the biggest loss for the national team heading into the tournament. Now, however, it’s evident that they didn’t need him in the first place, with their defensive efforts helping to lead them through to the quarter-finals for the first time in 24 years.
Sweden will now sit back and await the winners of England vs Colombia in tonight’s late kick-off, in what will be the final Round of 16 game at this year’s World Cup in Russia.
Sweden: Olsen (6), Lustig (6), Lindelof (7), Granqvist (7), Augustinsson (6), Claesson (5.5), Svensson (6), Ekdal (6), Forsberg (6.5), Berg (5.5), Toivonen (5.5), Olsson (6), Krafth (5.5), Thelin (5.5)
Switzerland: Sommer (6), Lang (4.5), Djourou (5), Akanji (5), Rodriguez (6), Behrami (5), Xhaka (5), Shaqiri (6), Dzemaili (5), Zuber (5), Drmic (5), Embolo (5.5), Seferovic (5.5)
Referee: Damir Skomina
Yellow Cards: Lustig, Behrami, Xhaka
Red Cards: Lang
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