St Petersburg: Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovi expressed that people should take his side little more seriously after they held Brazil to a 1-1 draw in their tournament opener.
Sweden gaffer Janne Andersson would second the thoughts of his counterpart, as Sweden made it to the World Cup in Russia at the expense of Italy.
Probably Andersson wouldn’t have dreamt of making a visit to St Petersburg when they were drawn in Group F along with the defending champions Germany, Mexico and the Korea Republic. But, as the tournament progressed they improved their game and would be high on confidence.
Now they are pitted against Switzerland, who also showed an immense character to finish second in the group behind Brazil.
In this World Cup of upsets and unexpected results, where the ‘smaller teams’ weren’t fancied to progress, it not the tie most of the people would have imagined, but come tomorrow, one of them will progress to the quarter-finals.
Making it count
Apart from the fans of Sweden and Switzerland what other football fans do not fancy about the match is the lack of attacking flair in both the sides. Nonetheless, the players from both sides ply their trade for top European clubs.
Sweden midfielder Albin Ekdal had the perfect answer to the critics, who pointed at the aforementioned point.
“Who the hell cares?” he said. “We’re best at maximising. We can’t compete with France or Spain when it comes to skill on the ball, but luckily football is not decided by ‘tiki-taka’ passes.”
Sweden are led by the defender Andreas Granqvist who has so far scored twice from penalty and is the leading goal scorer for the team. They were unlucky to concede the 95th-minute goal against Germany but Granqvist along with Victor Lindelof and full backs Mikael Lustig and Ludwig Augustinsson have kept their defence watertight.
On the other hand, their opponent will be without two key men in the backline as captain Stephan Lichtsteiner and Fabian Schar are both suspended, after picking up second yellow card.
Marcus Berg and Ola Toivonen have looked to pounce on every counter-attacking opportunity. Swiss will pin their hopes on Granit Xhaka and winger Xherdan Shaqiri to find the creative spark.
Sweden coach Andersson has already announced that he is ‘spying’ on his players during the training session and knows who will take the penalties if the situation arises in St Petersburg.
It will be a battle of two teams who have done it so far with the minimum fuss and would like to repeat the act as one of them would seal their last eight berths on Tuesday in St Petersburg.