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: Switzerland v Costa Rica

Who? Switzerland - Costa Rica
Where? Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
When? June 27, 20:00 (CET local time)

Switzerland (Yossi Medina)

Switzerland, a nice and peaceful country, was in the middle of political controversy suddenly. The goal celebrations of Xhaka and Shaqiri followed by full discussion whether they both should be banned. In the end, FIFA decided that they will be fined by 5000 Swiss Francs each.

They were not the only players to be fined. A third player joined, celebrate and was punished. Stephan Lichtsteiner joined his friends and showed his solidarity. In an action made by a captain, a leader of the team. With 102 caps, Lichtsteiner is worth to be the one who holds this title and now he hopes that he will do the best in his last World Cup.

Switzerland finds themselves once again playing against a CONCACAF team in the last matchday. Four years ago they defeated Honduras 3:0 in the last game, as they began the day with one point less from the second place. This time Switzerland will enjoy an interesting advantage, as now they are in the second place with one point more than Serbia.

With an another chance for reaching the round of 16, Switzerland can be satisfied from their performance until now. Now they need to be concentrate enough in order to prevent any slip against Costa Rica.

Costa Rica (Omri Tancman)

After two matches, Costa Rica lost its chance to qualify and now all that remains for the veterans of Costa Rica is a solid performance against Switzerland. This might not be easy at all since Costa Rica are in very bad form recently. Costa Rica have won only three of their last fourteen matches in all competitions. Moreover, they have lost eight of their last ten matches. Furthermore, they didn't score in six of their last nine appearances including their last two games in the World Cup and did not even manage a shot on target against Brazil.

It seems that there is no one to blame since the whole team is very weak. Nevertheless, Bryan Ruiz, Costa Rica's captain and forward is not performing at the same level as in the previous World Cup. While in Brazil Ruiz shone and led the Costa Ricans to the quarter finals, in this campaign in Russia, Ruiz wasn't able to lead his troops to scoring ability. According to Ruiz, as he stated prior to the game against Brazil, the third game should be a win for Costa Rica.

The Costa Ricans proved already some of their defensive ability, as they managed to withstand the Brazilian pressure for 90 minutes. In order to win, Costa Rica has to score. Much of this responsibility lies on Ruiz's shoulder.

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World Cup Preview: Serbia v Switzerland

Who? Serbia - Switzerland
Where? Kaliningrad Stadium, Kaliningrad
When? June 22, 20:00 (CET local time)

Serbia (Eden Roitfarb)

The latest game of Friday features a European derby between Serbia and Switzerland, the two more impressive teams of Group E. And that group includes favorites Brazil. The Serbs come after a 1-0 victory over Costa Rica, the previous tournament’s biggest surprise and that hasn’t lost a game in Brazil 2014. Within the Serbian camp, the mood is great, and optimism is running high. A win vs the Swiss means a qualification to the next round for the first time since France 1998, when they were still called Yugoslavia. However, finishing first in the group might lead to a meeting with Germany in the round of 16 – a matchup everyone would want to avoid.

An interesting storyline worth following is how the Serbian fans would treat Switzerland’s three Kosovar born players: Valon Behrami, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri. Before becoming an independent country, Kosovo was part of Serbia, and the Serbian fans are usually not shy to express their feelings towards political and state issues – with even some chanting “Kosovo is Serbia” in the streets of Russia. Coach Mladen Krstajic has been asked by Swiss journalists about this topic but refused to talk anything but football. He himself was born in Bosnia to a Bosnian mother and Montenegrin father and moved to Serbia in a late age due to the Bosnian War. As a player, Krstajic’s first goal for Serbia came against Switzerland in a 2002 World Cup qualifier, a fact he made sure to remind the Swiss journalists.

Although getting the edge over Costa Rica, Serbia did not show a brilliant display of football but was rather clinical. Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has missed a few clear-cut chances and will need to put the previous game behind him, as he will need to be on top form against the tough Swiss defense.

Switzerland (Yossi Medina)

When Switzerland looks on the Serbian squad, they can share some memories with them. The Serbian squad includes six players who won the U-20 World Cup in 2015. With some cleverness, a national team can understand how to use its talented young generation. In Switzerland we are 9 years after such a success.

In 2009, Switzerland upset Nigeria and won the U-17 World Cup. Only eight players made later an international cap for a senior team, but three of them made it in other national teams. Among the players, you can find also players that lead the team nowadays: Haris Seferovic, Granit Xhaka and Ricardo Rodriguez.

Switzerland is enjoying one of its best ever generations. These players, alongside with others who made impressive performances in other youth teams, are building the bright future of the Swiss football. While aiming for another knockout stage appearance, Switzerland knows that Serbia is the main challenger for the second place.

They can find another interesting connections to former Yugoslavia, as their coach Vladimir Petković is a Bosnian Croat who was born in Sarajevo. Without facing any political issues, Petković will accept this challenge from Serbia and will try to do his best with the team. Such optimism is the reason the Switzerland will make this game interesting.

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World Cup Preview: Brazil v Switzerland

Who? Brazil - Switzerland
Where? Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don
When? June 17, 20:00 (CET local time)

Brazil (Vitor Buratini Mendes)

The wait ends on Sunday: after a depressing finish for 2014 World Cup, the Brazilian team returns to the biggest tournament in the world against Switzerland. Brazil and Switzerland has faced eight times in history , but only once in the World Cup: 2-2 draw in 1950.

Brazil is excited for the World Cup. They are undefeated in the last 11 matches and the Brazilian are expected to give a true show at the premiere. Nothing except from victory will be acceptable and Neymar will do anything to make it happen.

Neymar have one of the most entertaining playing style in the world. He has everything that is need to mess up the defense of Switzerland. Returning from injury in the friendly games before the tournament, the biggest Brazilian player nowadays scored two beautiful goals in the matches against Croatia and Austria. He will surely use his speed and skills over Lichtsteiner, who will probably not be able to stop him without making fouls.

The biggest problem of the Brazilian team is perhaps the right back. With the injury of Dani Alves, it is possible to see Danilo in the first XI. He is not a bad player, but he is not at the same level as the other lineup players. Therefore, he should become more aware to the Swiss attempts to make him as an easy target.

Even with this small problem, Brazil are the favourites in this clash. This way to start the World Cup has everything to give confidence to one of the biggest teams in the world, which will seek with all its strength to take back to the place they know so well and to blow away the ghosts of 2014. Neymar will not be afraid to face it, just as he is not afraid of any defender -  these feelings may come, but Neymar will pass it.

Switzerland (Yossi Medina)

It is something that we need to get used to it, as Switzerland qualified for their fourth consecutive World Cup. They done it in the past, but one of these World Cups was 1954 campaign, which they hosted. It means that the Swiss managed to complete great four qualifying campaigns.

More than that Switzerland is usually qualifying for the knockout stage and can cause problems for major teams. They made a draw against France in 2006 and defeated Spain in 2010, two teams that will eventually reach the final. In such tournaments, Switzerland show their best skills and manage to play great even against teams that are considered as favorites.

Arsenal's Stephan Lichtsteiner will be one of most experienced players in the squad. As he probably will be in the starting XI, he can be the Swiss player with the most World Cup appearances, as he played 7 matches. He is also the only player in the Swiss squad to made 100 caps.

Another player that was significant four years ago and will like to make the same performance in this campaign is Xherdan Shaqiri. His hattrick against Ecuador in the last group stage match led Switzerland to another round of 16 appearance. With 20 international goals, Shaqiri's next one will make him as one of the top 10 goalscorers in the national team.

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