Sweden and Switzerland meet today at the St. Petersburg stadium with a huge opportunity staring at them -- the chance to qualify for the Quarter Finals of the Fifa World Cup 2018. Both the countries have waited long for this opportunity: Sweden last appeared in the Quarter Finals at USA 1994, while the Swiss haven't found themselves in the last eight since 1954, when they were the hosts. The winner will play the victor of Tuesday's other fixture between Colombia and England.
Full-time report: Sweden advance to the quarter-final of the Fifa World Cup 2018 after slugging out a narrow 1-0 win over Switzerland at the St. Petersburg stadium. Emil Forsberg, who has been brilliant in this tournament, scored the solitary goal of the match albeit with the help of a deflection off Swiss defender Manuel Akanji. Both the teams were wasteful in front of the final third despite creating good chances, and in the end, Sweden edged out Switzerland with a little bit of luck that seemed to be the only factor separating the two teams which were both solid in defence but as profligate in the final third.
True to their reputation, Switzerland started on the backfoot with Sweden's Berg getting a glorious chance to score as early as in the eighth minute. Berg latched on to the ball after a sloppy play from Switzerland but his shot was defended. The ball then fell for Ekdal who blasted his shot over the crossbar.
In the 27th minute, Sommer came up with a brilliant save to deny Sweden. Both the teams had a flurry of chances late in the first half, but all the chances were wasted. First, Switzerland's Blerim Dzemaili put his shot over the bar with the goal gaping. Minutes later, Mikael Lustig put in a delicious cross at the far post for unmarked Ekdal who hilariously put his effort over the bar.
Switzerland started the second half brightly and won a succession of corners but could never make it count. The game gradually settled into an even contest before Forsberg scored the breakthrough goal in the 66th minute. Sweden's no.10 received the ball at the edge of the penalty area and took his shot which looked like it would find the Swedish keeper. But Swiss defender Manuel Akanji stuck his foot out, helping the ball inside the ball and beyond the reach of Sommer.
As the time started nearing the 90th minute, Switzerland stepped up the pressure and camped in the Sweden box for long periods of time only for the Swedes to foil every Swiss attempt. In the 79th minute, Switzerland tried to knick one at the right post which Forsberg kicked out but couldn't clear. However, Granqvist hacked the ball clear before any Swiss player could get at the end of it.
There was also some time for late drama. In the injury time, looking for that elusive goal, Switzerland put most of their men forward but Sweden broke and started a counter attack. Olsson was slipped through into the box but Michael Lang pushed him over near the box! The referee pointed to the spot and showed a red card to Lang, only to review his decision and change it to a free-kick. However, he stood by his decision about Lang. The free-kick was a tame effort and straight at the wall. But that didn't matter, because Sweden had just pulled off a narrow win in a match that could have gone either way.
With this win, Sweden progress from this round of the competition for the first time since 1994, while Switzerland keep up the unfortunate run of being knocked out at this stage. Sweden's opponent will be decided by tonight's game between England and Colombia. Switzerland have missed out on the opportunity to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 1954 and the Swiss must be disappointed to go out to a side they would have felt they had the beating of.Here are the live updates:
Peeeeeeeeeeeeppppppp!! That's it! Switzerland are out.
Minute 90+3 -- PENALTY!! Refree first gives a penalty and shows a red card to Michael Lang before referring to the VAR. But he reverses his decision on the penalty, not on the red card though. Sweden get a free-kick at the edge of the box. The free-kick is straight at the wall.Minute 90+1 -- Switzerland go close! Ricardo Rodriguez curls a cross from the left touchline to the near post. Seferovic gets a flick on the ball and Robin Olsen is down quickly to save.
Minute 89 -- Sweden make a substitution: Berg off, Thelin in.
Minute 83-- Relentless pressure from Switzerland, but Sweden are holding firm for now.
Minute 81 -- Sweden double-substitution: Emil Krafth and relegation specialist Martin Olsson on, Mikael Lustig and Emil Forsberg off.
Minute 79 -- Switzerland get a corner and Forsberg saves one at the right post but before the rebound can get to a Swiss player, Granqvist hacks it clear.
Minute 72 -- Double substitution for Switzerland: Seferovic comes on for Dzemaili and Embolo comes in for Zuber.
Minute 66 (GOAL!!)-- Sweden score! Forsberg scores from the edge of the penalty area! Albeit with a little help from Swiss defender Manuel Akanji who sticks a foot out and deflects the ball.
Minute 62 -- Sweden get a free-kick on the left very near the box but the delivery is poor and it comes to nothing.
Minute 60 -- Behrami gets his name on the refree's card. He'll miss the next game if Switzerland go through.Minute 53 -- Switzerland win a succession of corners, none of which amount to much. The Swede have been pinned in their own half for soome time now.
Second half begins.
Half-time report: Sweden and Switzerland, two teams known for their defensive abilities, were supposed to play out a rather slow match today at the St. Petersburg stadium. But at half-time, the game has been exciting with plenty of chances created by both the teams. But if the scoreline still reads 0-0, it's because the teams have been profligate in front of the goal.
True to their reputation, Switzerland started on the backfoot with Sweden's Berg getting a glorious chance to score as early as in the eight minute. Berg latched on to the ball after a sloppy play from Switzerland but his shot was defended. The ball then fell for Ekdal who blasted his shot over the crossbar.
In the 27th minute, Sommer came up with a brilliant save to deny Sweden. Both the teams had a flurry of chances late in the first half, but all the chances were wasted. First Dzemaili put his shot over the bar with the goal gaping. Minutes later, Lustig put in a delicious cross at the far post for unmarked Ekdal who hillariously put his effort over the bar.
Both the team will need to improve in the final third if they want to progress.Minute 43 -- Shakiri puts in a low cross into the box after being released down the left but no Swiss player can get to the ball.
Minute 40 -- It's like the two teams are competing for the award of the most terrible finish! Lustig puts in a delicious cross at the far post for unmarked Ekdal who hilariously puts his effort over the bar!!
Minute 38 -- What a chance!! But Dzemaili's shot is over the bar!! He receives a wonderful cut-back outside the box with the goal gaping but his effort is terrible!
Minute 33 -- Xhaka tries a long ranger, almost 40 yards, with his left-foot. His shot is dipping but still too high to alarm the Swedish keeper.
Minute 29 -- Yellow card to Kustig for pulling down a Swiss player. The free-kick is terrible and straight at the hands of the Sweden keeper.
Minute 27 -- Brilliant save from Sommer!! Berg takes a scissor key from a half-volley that looked to find the rind corner of the goalpost only for Sommer to make a stunning save.
Minute 23 -- Switzerland make a quick counter with Xhaka leading the charge. The midfielder passes the ball to Dzemaili on the right wing who passes it back to Shakiri. The Stock player then puts another cross into the box which Zuber heads over the bar.
Minute 15 -- Shaqiri curls a cross from the right in towards the head of Valon Behrami but his delivery is a tad too high.
Minute 10-- Switzerland get a chance. Shaqiri releases Dzemaili with an over the top ball which Dzemaili nearly gets a touch to but it's grasped by the Swede keeper.
Minute 8 -- Berg gets another glorious chance after a sloppy play from Switzerland but a defender blocks it. The ball falls for Ekdal who blasts his shot over the crossbar.
Minute 6 -- Switzerland are dominating the early phase of the play and are seeing a lot of the ball. Sweden launch a counter-attack and Berg hits it beyond the target.Minute 2 -- Granit Xhaka concedes the first foul of the match, knocking Ola Toivonen to the ground. Switzerland clear the delivery.
Sweden: Olsen, Lustig, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson, Claesson, Svensson, Ekdal, Forsberg, Berg, Toivonen.
Subs: Johnsson, Olsson, Guidetti, Helander, Hiljemark, Krafth, Jansson, Rohden, Durmaz, Thelin, Nordfeldt.
Switzerland: Sommer, Lang, Djourou, Akanji, Rodriguez, Behrami, Xhaka, Shaqiri, Dzemaili, Zuber, Drmic.
Subs: Mvogo, Moubandje, Elvedi, Embolo, Freuler, Seferovic, Fernandes, Zakaria, Gavranovic, Burki.
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
MATCH PREVIEW: Sweden arrive in the game as underdogs, but they have thrived under this tag. While their strongest point has been their defence, scoring three goals against Mexico is a reminder for Switzerland about how dangerous they can be. The team is physically imposing and the Swiss must be wary of that aspect.
Switzerland come to this match on the back of an impressive track record in the past two years during which they have lost just one out of 25 matches they played.
Switzerland's strength lies in their solidity at the back, they also carry an attacking threat, led by their skilful playmaker Granit Xhaka and winger Xherdan Shaqiri. Blerim Dzemaili and Valon Behrami will feature in midfield, while Steven Zuber and centre-forward Haris Seferovic will provide pace on the break.
ROAD TO THE ROUND OF 16: Sweden were impressive in the group stage. They opened with a 1-0 win over south Korea but lost to Germany after a last-minute goal by Toni Kroos. Janne Andersson's team then routed Mexico 3-0 to secure top spot in their group.
The Scandinavians will be hoping for more from forward duo Marcus Berg and Ola Toivonen, who have scored just one goal between them in Russia so far. The team's top scorer to date is center-back Andreas Granqvist with two goals.
Switzerland dramatically beat Serbia in a memorable match in which Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri scored but also got in trouble for their celebrations. The Swiss opened with a 1-1 draw vs Brazil before that historic 2-1 win over Serbia. And, while they drew 2-2 against Costa Rica, Switzerland should be able to move on from that game and focus on the positives they have accumulated in the tournament.
HEAD TO HEAD: There have been 28 international matches between Sweden and Switzerland. The Swiss have won 11, the Swedes ten, with seven of them ending in draws.
A WORD OF CAUTION: Switzerland will be missing key defenders Fabian Schaer and captain Stephan Lichtsteiner, while Sweden will be without Sebastian Larsson.
TEAM SPEAK: Sweden coach Janne Andersson said his team will be prepared for a penalty shootout to decide the duel with Switzerland. The absence of world-class strikers in either side has led to predictions that the scores will be tied after 120 minutes at Saint Petersburg Stadium.
"It's my job to decide on the players who need to perform, in this case for the penalty shootout situation," Andersson said. "We've talked about it in the squad... and I'm going to rank the players, the entire squad in terms of penalties."
"The starting point is that every player on the pitch is a defender. It’s what Marcus Berg and Ola Toivonen personify the most, with the work they do. Then we relate to each-other and not to where the opponents are. We don’t run to chase our opponents."
"It’s a situation again where we have to reach our personal best, I know I keep on repeating it but I think it’s a very good description on what is needed from us both as individuals and as a team. We need to reach our absolute highest level, then we will have the chance to beat Switzerland as well," said Anderson.
Sweden defender Andreas Granqvist said on Monday: "We are in the Round of 16 not only because of an incredibly strong collective defence, but also because we have dared in the attacking game and we will go in and do everything we can tomorrow to reach a similar performance to what we did against Mexico."
Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic: "We got ourselves into trouble in the first three games. Tomorrow we want to control the game from the beginning. We will be hungry like our fans who have travelled to St. Petersburg. It seems that we have triggered something in Switzerland."
Switzerland defender Michael Lang: "The most important thing on Tuesday will be that we do everything for the success of the team. I haven't been in the starting lineup for a few weeks. I am really looking forward to this game. We're ready for the Round of 16."
Granit Xhaka: "Of course, thoughts are coming up about the elimination at EURO 2016 on penalties. We want to win the game against Sweden in 90 or 120 minutes."
SWEDEN: Robin Olsen; Mikael Lustig, Victor Lindelöf, Andreas Granqvist, Ludwig Augustinsson; Viktor Claesson, Gustav Svensson, Albin Ekdal, Emil Forsberg; Marcus Berg, Ola Toivonen
SWITZERLAND: Yann Sommer; Michael Lang, Johan Djourou, Manuel Akanji, Ricardo Rodriguez; Valon Behrami, Granit Xhaka; Xherdan Shaqiri, Blerim Dzemaili, Steven Zuber; Josip Drmic
-- This will be Sweden's 50th World Cup match, making them the 11th team in World Cup history, and the seventh from Europe, to reach the half-century mark.
-- Switzerland's incredible recent record now stands at just one loss in the last 25 matches.
-- It was also on July 3 in 1994 that the Swedes were last victorious in a second-round match. In their first knockout encounter at the USA, they defeated Saudi Arabia 3-1, and went on to claim third place at the event.