WCQ Playoffs
Date: 7:45 p.m. Nov. 13, 2017
Venue: Unknown
Ref:
Att:
0 - 0
(Second Half)



FIFA World Cup Playoff Preview: Italy -v- Sweden

Mon, Nov 13 2017

Sweden defender Martin Olsson. Credit: Al Robinson

ITALY

Italy face a simple task if they are to avoid failing to make the World Cup finals for only the second time in their history and the first time since 1958 - a win by two clear goals is a requirement, or else force a penalty shotoout.

 

The finals were held in Sweden that year and, along with the first World Cup that European nations refused to enter, it's the only time the Azzurri have been absent from the world stage.

 

That's the scale of the challenge – and the heavy weight of history – facing Italy manager Gian Piero Ventura as he reaches the end of his first campaign as national coach.

 

A 1-0 defeat in Stockholm in the first leg doesn't tell the whole story of that match as the Azzurri were outfought and ultimately outplayed by their less salubrious opponents.

 

Matteo Darmian went close to snatching a draw and a priceless Sweden goal for Italy with a rasping drive in the second half but it would have been very much unmerited.

 

“We analysed Friday’s match, realising what we did and that we can do a lot more,” Ventura said at the pre-match press conference.

 

“Tactics are important but on their own they’re not enough, just how heart and determination aren’t enough on their own. Together, the three things guarantee success.

 

“When I arrived at the National Team the situation was this: Only one team would qualify directly for the World Cup and Spain were in the group.

 

“The journey was going well but we took into account that Spain were probably stronger and we’d likely have to go to the play-off.

 

“We’re there now. If we lose we’ll make certain considerations and if we win we’ll make other ones.”

 

Ventura will be without star midfielder Marco Verratti after he picked up a yellow card suspension on Friday night but he has an otherwise full squad to choose from.

 

 

SWEDEN

Sweden drew perhaps the toughest of all seeded opponents in the play-offs when they saw the Azzurri's name drawn from the hat.

 

However they had little fear going into their match having overcome both France in qualifying and finishing ahead of the Netherlands – both recent World Cup finalists.

 

And they quickly set about imposing their game on the Italians in Stockholm, maintaining a feverish tempo and forcing their more technically-gifted opponents into errors.

 

And there was little surprise when they broke the deadlock early in the second half althoug the identity of the scorer, substitute Jakob Johanssen, surely was.

 

They endured a nervy finish as Italy hit the post through Darmian, but they defended well to ensure they travel to Milan with a one-goal advantage.

 

Sweden will be without the injured Albin Ekdal, meaning Johanssen is likely to start, while Mikael Lustig returns from suspension.

 

 

Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain).

 

 

MATCH STATS

The sides last met in competitive action (before Friday) during Euro 2016 when a late Eder strike was enough to earn Italy all three points and passage to the knockout stages.

 

The two teams have met 23 in total, with Italy holding the edge with ten wins to Sweden's seven, and six draws.

 

 

BETTING

Italy 1/2; Draw 16/5; Sweden 6/1.

 

PREDICTION

Italy 2 – 1 Sweden

 

 

Italy

Injured: None.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: Marco Verratti.

 

Sweden

Injured: Albin Ekdal.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.



Italy
Gianluigi Buffon
Goalkeeper
Andrea Barzagli
Defender
Leonardo Bonucci
Defender
Giorgio Chiellini
Defender
Antonio Candreva
Midfielder
Matteo Darmian
Midfielder
Alessandro Florenzi
Midfielder
Jorginho Frello Filho
Midfielder
Marco Parolo
Midfielder
Manolo Gabbiadini
Forward
Ciro Immobile
Forward

Substitutes
Davide Astori
Defender
Andrea Belotti
Unknown
Federico Bernardeschi
Midfield
Daniele De Rossi
Midfield
Gianluigi Donnarumma
Goalkeeper
Éder
Forward
Stephan El Shaarawy
Forward
Roberto Gagliardini
Midfield
Lorenzo Insigne
Forward
Mattia Perin
Goalkeeper
Daniele Rugani
Defender
Davide Zappacosta
Defender
Sweden
Robin Olsen
Goalkeeper
Mikael Lustig
Defender
Victor Lindelof
Defender
Andreas Granqvist
Defender
Ludwig Augustinsson
Defender
Sebastian Larsson
Midfielder
Jakob Johansson
Midfielder 19'
19Subbed Off: 19'
Emil Forsberg
Midfielder
Victor Claesson
Midfielder
Marcus Berg
Forward
Ola Toivonen
Forward

Substitutes
Ken Sema
Midfield
Marcus Rohden
Midfield
Martin Olsson
Defender
Kristoffer Nordfeldt
Goalkeeper
Emil Krafth
Unknown
Isaac Kiese Thelin
Forward
Karl-Johan Johnsson
Goalkeeper
Pontus Jansson
Defender
Filip Helander
Defender
John Guidetti
Forward
Jimmy Durmaz
Midfield
Gustav Svensson
Midfield
19Subbed On: 19'
19'


Photo Gallery for Italy -v- Sweden