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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