World Cup Preview: Sweden v England

Who? Sweden - England
Where? Samara Arena, Samara
When? July 6, 16:00 (CET local time)


In 1994, Sweden made one of its best World Cup, as they reached the semi finals. Since then, Sweden played in seven major tournaments and their best achievements were the round of 16 in the World Cup and reaching quarter finals in the Euro. Now Sweden is facing an option to get one step forward in their way.

Sweden will play against England, a clash that make them fell a bit comfortable. They already played against England twice at the World Cup, in the group stage of 2002 and 2006, and in both occasions the games were tied. If you consider also games in the Euro, Sweden also won one of two matches between the teams. So Sweden's record against England is seems to be not bad at all.

Sweden will need to play without Mikael Lustig who got his second yellow card in the World Cup during the match against Switzerland. The one who will take his place as the right-back is Emil Krafth, that is only 23 years old but already have a lot of experience in international level. Even though he made only 14 international caps for the senior team, he began his international career in the U-21 team while he was just 17 years old.

After the defeat against Germany, nobody thought that Sweden could go so far. Now, after two games without conceding and with the strong defensive style, Sweden are close to make another amazing match.


Talks about football's coming home are just becoming louder. The game against Colombia finished with England's first ever win by penalty shootouts and now, if you want and if you don't, everyone believe that it's possible.

Once again, the main name is Harry Kane. In the previous match, Kane scored in a bit controversial penalty, but now it doesn't matter. Kane scored his 6th goal in the tournament, and now he is the best English scorer in a single World Cup alongside with Gary Lineker's 6 goals in 1986. If he will score once more, he will reach another milestone, as since 1978 only one player scored at least 7 goals in a single World Cup – it was Ronaldo in 2002.

After the winning against Colombia, Eric Dier became the hero of England. Dier, who scored the decisive penalty, is by somehow not the traditional English player. He didn't played in England until the age of 20, as he lived in Portugal and played in the youth teams of Sporting Lisbon. Yet, he played for England youth teams and even played together with Harry Kane in the U-20 World Cup.

England didn't had a great match against Colombia and they actually enjoyed a bad performance of Los Cafeteros. If England would not improve their playing level, they couldn't handle such a strong opponent as Sweden. England will have their chance to show the best of their skills, unless it will be the end of their dreams.

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World Cup Preview: Sweden v Switzerland

Who? Sweden - Switzerland
Where? Krestovsky Stadium, St. Petersburg
When? July 3, 16:00 (CET local time)


Sweden couldn't dream on a better finishing for the group stage. After the dramatic match against Germany, Sweden recovered quickly and thrashed Mexico 3:0. Moreover, the sensational Korean win against Germany meant that they will finish in the first place and thereby will avoid a clash against Brazil.

After their tremendous World Cup in 1994, Sweden qualified to the knockout stage in both of their next World Cup appearances but failed to qualify for the quarter finals. In 2002 they lost by a golden goal to Senegal and four years later they lost to Germany.

One of the main players of the team, Mikael Lustig is expected to make his 70th international cap. As the third most capped in the Swedish squad, many in Sweden will look for his experience in the defense, especially against the lethal attack of Switzerland. Alongside Victor Lindelöf and Andreas Granqvist, Sweden already didn't conceded in two matches during this World Cup.

Until now, Sweden showed great football and it seems that Sweden is keeping their great run from the qualifications. In the new situation that happened in the bracket, Sweden can even dream on reaching their best past achievements. Will it be the case in 2018?


Switzerland coming to the knockout stage with a lot of confidence. The draw against Brazil and the win against Serbia gave them the spot to the round of 16 and even the last match against Costa Rica didn't made them feel disappointed. Now they are ready for their next mission, the match against Sweden.

Switzerland managed to qualify for the knockout stage in three out of their last four World Cup appearances. Yet, they never reached the quarter finals in the tournament when more than 16 teams participated. Their last World Cup quarter final was back in 1954, when they hosted the tournament. They reached the quarter finals twice more, in 1934 and 1938.

After a long time that Switzerland considered as a team with defensive style, the Swiss showed their attacking abilities in this World Cup. First of all they scored five goals in the group stage, one of their best scoring records in World Cup history. Another interesting fact is the number of scorers, five different players scored, making Switzerland as one of the most diverse frontlines at this World Cup.

At the last match, Blerim Džemaili joined Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka as a player who scored in both 2014 and 2018 World Cups. Džemaili, another player with Albanian descent, is one of the players the bringing the new style for Switzerland, the style that makes this team a bit more attractive than usual.

Switzerland will need to keep their playing level they had against Brazil and Serbia. If they will play the same, the Swiss can see themselves as worth to be in the quarter finals. 62 years have passed since their last time, isn't it the right time to return?

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World Cup Preview: Mexico v Sweden

Who? Mexico - Sweden
Where? Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg
When? June 27, 16:00 (CET local time)

Mexico (Meir Lozowick)

If you would ask the Mexican fans how they felt when Toni Kroos scored his decisive goal against Sweden, the majority of those fans would be disappointed. Guaranteed qualification to the round of 16 was already behind the corner, and in one second, elimination from the tournament is still an option. However, if you would ask anyone of the Mexican players how they felt in the last minute of the game, the response will probably be something unrelated. Some would say that slept, others might say that they read a book. But why? Cause the Mexican national team was inside an airplane on route to Moscow back from Rostov. It’s not a coincidence or a matter of finding a cheap flight. The Mexican football association adopted a motto of “don’t look at the neighbour's grass but only your own”. Meaning: the team has to gain the qualification by their own. Gaining it with some help from others would be a nice bonus.

The situation for Mexico is quite clear: win or draw against Sweden will guarantee qualification from the first place in the group. The situation could be very different with losing against Sweden. If that will happen, Mexico would have to do exactly what they don’t want and count on others. Assuming that Germany would win against South Korea by two goals or more, Mexico would be eliminated. The last thing that Mexico would like to do, is to count on South Korea to do their job.

The goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa demonstrate the positive & confident attitude during the press conference, saying that Mexico's faith is in its own legs and this is the only thing that matters. Ochoa put all of his faith in Juan Carlos Osorio's decisions. From his side, Osorio has demonstrated that he can learn the opponent and prepare the team well. He claims that Mexico should break the record this tournament and go the furthest they have ever been. Now it’s on him to show that he can keep up his players to his words. The first step: reaching the round of 16.

Sweden (Yossi Medina)

In the last few days, one name became the main issue in the Swedish national team. Jimmy Durmaz became the main person for critics after the defeat against Germany. Durmaz made the foul who gave the free kick against Sweden and later became the winning goal of Germany.

Durmaz received racial abuse for this incident. Even though he was born in Sweden, people decided to mention his Turkish and Syriac origin. With an experience of 45 international caps for his nation, this abuse that focused his ethnicity was a line that nobody should cross.

In elegant way, Durmaz faced the media few days ago. "When you threaten me, when you can call me a terrorist, then you have gone far beyond the border", said Durmaz. "I am proud to play in the Swedish national team and I will never let any racists destroy that pride", he said as he gives a clear answer to all those people.

Jimmy Durmaz is not the only immigrant that plays in Sweden during this World Cup. His teammate, Isaac Kiese Thelin, was born to a Congolese father. Both won together the U-21 European Championship with Sweden in 2015. Moreover, for years Sweden had Zlatan Ibrahimovic as their captain, another player that is not a native Swedish player.

Sweden will have to work hard against Mexico if they still want to play at the next stage. As usual, they will need to do it together. If in the beginning it was about playing as a team, now it became to be about playing together equally as an all-Swedish team.

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World Cup Preview: Germany v Sweden

Who? Germany - Sweden
Where? Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
When? June 23, 20:00 (CET local time)


Germany is facing a new unusual situation, losing in the group stage. Since 1990, Germany lost only once in the group stage out of 21 games. Now, after they dropped three points, the world champions need to be focused in order to get back to the race for the knockout stage.

Once upon a time, Germany and Sweden met three times in the World Cup, and in two out of these three matches, Germany won. The Germans hold a long streak of undefeated games against Sweden. They won their last 11 games, as the last Swedish win was in 1978. The last official match that Germany has lost to Sweden was in the 1958 World Cup.

If there is something that makes the German journey in Russia more complicated, it is the recent political controversy of Mesut Özil and Ilkay Gündoğan. The two German players met a month ago with the President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and caused a lot of criticism among former players and the fans. Before the match against Mexico, while the German lineup was announced in the stadium, the fans shouted and booed in the moment that Özil's name was heard.

After France in 2002, Italy in 2010 and Spain in 2014, Germany doesn't want to be part of the recent tradition of World Champions with early eliminations. For Löw and his players, nothing but winning against Sweden is acceptable.


After the match against South Korea, Sweden believe that they have what it needs in order to qualify for the next stage. In their last three World Cup appearance they didn't fail to qualify through the group stage, and they wouldn't like to break this streak.

Sweden now will have to face few more records in their path for winning vs Germany. For example, Sweden didn't win two group stage matches in one World Cup since 1958. Moreover, Sweden failed to defeat an European opponent in the World Cup since the third place match in 1994 against Bulgaria. Since this match, they drew twice against England and lost to Germany in 2006, as said before.

The last match made Andreas Granqvist the key player of the team. Even though he was the one to score against South Korea, his main role against Germany is to prevent any conceding. Granqvist enjoys now his last travel in Russia after five years of playing in Krasnodar, before he will return to play for Helsingborg.

Sweden is dreaming about an upset against Germany. If it will happen, Sweden can find themselves in the interesting situation of being one step from knockout, or maybe clinching it, depending on the other results. For Sweden, it will be an amazing achievement.

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World Cup Preview: Sweden v South Korea

Who? Sweden - South Korea
Where? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
When? June 18, 14:00 (CET local time)


If you need to understand the Swedish team for the World Cup, all you need to do is to read what Janne Andersson, Sweden manager, at the end of the second leg against Italy: "It's unbelievable! This player has just stopped to play for Sweden one and a half years ago and we are still here talking about him".

Andersson had a lot of luck compared to those who had the same job a few years ago. He didn't have Zlatan Ibrahimovic as an option in his squad. For years it seems that even though Sweden had one of the biggest football stars in the world, they always struggle to play with him. Sweden failed to qualify for the last two World Cups and being eliminated in group stage at the last three Euro campaigns.

In the new era, the Zlatanless era, Sweden is looking forward. Those who are focusing on the defensive style against Italy are almost ignoring the face that Sweden made great attacking performances during the qualifiers. Andersson changed the point of view for the team – from being a group of players that play with a star, Sweden became a unit that plays together as a team.

Sweden brings another important thing to this World Cup, a new generation that is eager to put Sweden back on the peak of a major tournament. These players made two unusual achievements for Sweden as youngsters with winning the U-21 European Championship in 2015. Among them you can find John Guidetti, Victor Lindelöf and Isaac Kiese Thelin.

With such optimism, you can understand why Sweden feels that they don't need Zlatan anymore. Sweden had a complete renovation and maybe it will be more accurate to say that Sweden became a team.

South Korea

The Taegeuk Warriors arrive to Russia with a long tradition of World Cup participations. The Koreans are participating in the World Cup for the 9th consecutive tournament, one of the longest active streaks in World Cup history.

A look on the squad will show that most of the players are playing in Asia, mainly in the K-League but some of them also in Japan and China. Yet, you can find some players that play in Europe. The leader will be Ki Sung-Yueng of Swansea City. Ki will play his third World Cup and he wants to make a good performance with his teammates.

Another name that is a bit unfamiliar is Hwang Hee-Chan, Red Bull Salzburg's striker. While everyone will be watching on Son Heung-Min, Hwang will have a chance to show his kills. His last season was superb while he scored five goals in his Austrian club Europa League campaign, which ended only in the semifinals.

With Germany, Mexico and Sweden, the mission to qualify for the next stage is seems to be impossible. After looking at South Korea, this team maybe will not do so, but they can be a tough obstacle from each of their rivals.

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World Cup Nostalgics: Best 5 Repeats at the Group Stage

The World Cup always brings us the feelings of great memories. Many games during the group stage will remind an old-fashioned World Cup clashes with the same teams. Here are some of these best repeats.

Sweden - Germany
1958 Semifinals 3:1 / 2018 Group F

In 1958, Germany was the reigning World Champions and they were two wins away from winning the title once again. 1:0 lead by Germany didn't made any change for the hosts feeling. Sweden managed to equalize during the first half and scored twice in the last with goals of Gunnar Gren and Kurt Hamrin. Sweden made history and qualified for their only final in the history. Can Sweden upset Germany once again?

Morocco - Portugal
1986 Group Stage 3:1 / 2018 Group B

In hot summer day at Guadalajara, Morocco and Portugal met while they knew that the winner will qualify for the next stage. Portugal were the favourites, but they didn't believe that Morocco will be in one of its best matches ever. Abderrazak Khairi scored a brace in the first half and Abdelkrim Merry added one more. The Atlas Lions won and Portugal found themselves being eliminated too early.
Portugal are once again on the lead, but will it be enough to defeat Morocco?

Brazil - Costa Rica
1990 Group Stage 1:0 / 2018 Group E

Costa Rica World Cup debut was a memorable campaign with wins against Scotland and Sweden and reaching the knockout stage. Nevertherless, one of its well known performances was actually at the defeat 0:1 against Brazil. In this match Costa Rica played with an unusual black and white shirts. The local crowd in the mythical Delle Alpi in Turin thought it a gesture for the local team, Juevetus, and it was enough to make Costa Rica as one of the most beloved team in the tournament.
May Costa Rica have another performance that will be enough to get support?

Argentina - Nigera
1994 Group Stage 2:1 / 2018 Group D

Argentina and Nigeria will meet for the fifth time in World Cup group stage, but none of the previous matches was as amazing as the first meeting in 1994. An early lead with a goal scored by Samson Siasia made the Argentinian a bit shockes. Only Claudio Caniggia could save the day for the Albiceleste and he scored twich before the half time whistle. These goals gave Argentina the win, but later both of the teams qualified for the knockout stage.
In 1994 they qualified together and it happened once again in 2014. What will be in 2018?

Spain - Portugal
2010 Round of 16 1:0 / 2018 Group B

Another Portuguese lost, this time against the eventual World Cup winners in that year, Spain. The only goal scored by David Villa was enough for a win in the Iberian Peninsula derby and to qualify for the quarterfinals. The interesting name in the list is Portugal manager in this match, Carlos Queiroz. In 2018, he will make a double repeat while he will meet Spain and Portugal as the head coach of Iran.
With tons of emotion, what will be the end of the Queiroz-Portugal-Spain trio in the next World Cup?

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