Sweden vs Italy preview

November 8, 2017
By: Nemanja Lazarevic

Sweden will be hoping to reach the first World Cup finals since 2006 when they take on Italy in the 2018 World Cup play-offs.

The Azzurri, on the other hand, have so far only failed to qualify for the 1958 World Cup held in Sweden, and they’ve got four WC trophies to their name.

After failing to impress at the Euro 2016 finals, where they won just one point and scored as many goals, Sweden had their work cut out for them in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Blagult didn’t have such a good start, taking 7 points from first 4 games, but they have since improved and eventually managed to pip Bulgaria and Netherlands to a play-off berth.

Sweden were pretty unfortunate to be pitted against four-time World Cup winners Italy in the play-offs, but they are definitely up for it.

There were no major surprises in Janne Andersson’s squad for the all-important double header, with all key men making the cut.

The boss does have some selection problems as Mikael Lustig is banned, with Emil Krafth expected to start at right-back.

Important midfielder Jimmy Durmaz is unlikely to start as he has just recovered from injury, and his place should be taken by Viktor Claesson.

Probable starting line-up (4-4-2): R. Olsen – Krafth, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson – Claesson, S. Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg – Toivonen, Berg.

Having been in the same group with mighty Spain, Italy eventually had to settle for a second-place finish and they now hope to reach Russia via the play-offs.

The Azzurri were probably not too happy to face Sweden, but they remain the favourites to reach their 15th successive World Cup finals.

Head coach Giampiero Ventura has again decided to rely on in-form players, with Stephan El Shaarawy, Simone Zaza and Jorginho all receiving call-ups.

Meanwhile, Andrea Conti, Riccardo Montolivo, Claudio Marchisio and Sebastian Giovinco have all been left out, while Bryan Cristante was a surprise omission.

Recent reports suggest that Ventura will switch back to 3-5-2 formation for the games against Sweden, and his side can be backed at 2.30 (13/10) to win the first leg.

Simone Zaza is expected to start alongside Ciro Immobile up front due to the fact that Andrea Belotti has yet to rediscover his form after missing a few games through injury.

Probable starting line-up (3-5-2): Buffon – Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini – Candreva, De Rossi, Parolo, Verratti, Darmian – Immobile, Zaza.

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