In-form France lock horns with Sweden in a game that could play a crucial part in deciding who sits on the throne in Group A of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification. Both teams currently stand at seven points sharing the top spot with the same goal difference and will head into the match with high hopes.
Can France make it three in a row?
Les Bleus are coming off from an emotionally draining summer during which they missed a glorious chance to be crowned the European champions at their own soil. Having lost to Portugal in the final game of the tournament, Didier Deschamps’ men did not let the disappointment ruin the start of the World Cup qualifying campaign. With a talented squad at his disposal and players of world-class quality, Deschamps opened the new chapter somewhat disappointingly with a goalless draw at Belarus. Goals from Gameiro, who scored a brace, Payet and Griezmann have helped France make amends in the very next game as they cruised to 4-1 victory over Bulgaria at the beginning of October. A huge 1-0 win at the Netherlands followed with the three points from this tightly-contested visit sure to be of great importance for the team’s morale ahead of the crucial top-breaker against Sweden. France manager has made a couple of changes to his squad hoping his team will be able to make it three on the trot, which will allow France to make a giant leap towards grabbing their ticket to Russia.
PSG’s Adrien Rabiot has earned his first-ever senior call-up, while it is Olivier Giroud who has also been added to the list after shaking off his injury. Juventus defender Patrice Evra has been recalled to the squad, while Barcelona starlet Samuel Umtiti has been forced off due to a hamstring injury. Kingsley Coman injured his ankle during the week and was replaced in the squad by Thomas Lemar.
Better without Ibra?
Sweden have opened the new chapter with their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, heading into the process without their captain and biggest star Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Manchester United striker retired from international football following his team’s disappointment EURO 2016 campaign which ended in the Blaugt grabbing only one point and finishing rock bottom in group E, which also held the likes of Italy, Belgium and Ireland. There seems to be a bigger balance within the team with Ibra now out of the picture and results are there to prove it as well. John Guidetti has taken Zlatan’s spot upfront but is yet to prove his worth for the team in the qualifiers. The Swedes fought bravely for a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands at the beginning of the World Cup qualifying cycle, while they went on to notch back-to-back wins over Luxembourg and Bulgaria last time out. The forthcoming match at the Stade de France in Paris will be the greatest test to Janne Andersson’s men, who will be looking for a surprise three points that would instantly make them group favourites.
Leeds United defender Pontus Jansson has been included in the Swedish squad for the trip to France, while Norwich City’s Martin Olsson has been ruled out with thigh injury.
Despite their improving form of late, Sweden will head into the game against France as underdogs. Janne Andersson’s men are yet to find consistency on their travels and will surely have a mountain to climb in Paris against in-form hosts who have won their last 11 matches as hosts.
Top pick: France to win to Nil 1.80 (4/5) @BetVictor
Alternative pick 1: France / France 1.87 (20/23) @Coral
Alternative pick 2: Griezmann to score anytime 2.10 (11/10) @BetFair