European sides Sweden and Switzerland will battle it out in the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup. Both sides have faired reasonably well so far; Sweden topped Group F, a group which saw many people’s favourites, Germany, knocked out whilst the Swiss came second in Group E, finishing behind South American giants Brazil. Sweden were not expected to get through their group, let alone come first; their performances so far will see them considered slight favourites heading into the game. A win for either side will see them face either England or Colombia in the quarter-finals.
Sweden v Switzerland
Key Men For Switzerland
Switzerland boast a large number of players playing in Europe’s top leagues. Granit Xhaka and Stephen Lichtsteiner are both at Arsenal, while Xherdan Shaqiri is linked with Liverpool, having previously been at Bayern Munich, and is currently at Stoke City. Shaqiri has been Switzerland’s main creative outlet in recent years. The Stoke star already has one goal and one assist this tournament. The Basel academy graduate usually answers the call from his country and with his side, Stoke relegated last season, he will be extra motivated to impress potential suitors.
Key Men For Sweden
For Sweden, the biggest story so far is not who is in the squad, but who has been left out. In recent years, the undisputed king of Swedish football has been Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The LA Galaxy striker retired from international football but attempted to get back into the Sweden side for this tournament. He was not recalled and Sweden are having a very good tournament without him. Despite the Sweden squad containing no real superstars, players like Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof have stood up this tournament. Red Bull Leipzig midfielder Emil Forsberg is the main creative outlet for the Swedes, while former Celtic striker John Guidetti could make an impact off the bench.
Both sides will consider the quarter-finals to be massive successes. It’s likely to be a tight game with two evenly matched side. The experience of defeating Mexico and the lessons learned following the agonising last-minute defeat to Germany will edge it for Sweden. Toni Kroos’s late winner may prove to be a blessing in disguise as they will likely reassess their game management and improve upon it for their game against the Swiss.
Prediction: Sweden 2-0 Switzerland