Sweden laying an ambush???

July 3, 2018

With two minutes of this game remaining and with Sweden in the lead, their forward Ola Toivonen tried to play the ball against an opponent and out for a corner.

The only problem was that, from all of a yard-and-a-half, he missed and as such the result was a goal kick to Switzerland. A minute later Switzerland were up the other end of the field and almost equalised.

A small detail from a dreadful match but indicative of the quality, indicative of what England — or indeed Tuesday night’s opponents Colombia — will face in the quarter-final of the World Cup this weekend.

Emil Forsberg sent Sweden into the lead after 66 minutes when he tried a right-foot shot from outside the Switzerland box

Emil Forsberg sent Sweden into the lead after 66 minutes when he tried a right-foot shot from outside the Switzerland box

Forsberg's shot took a wicked deflection which sent the ball up into the air and past Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer

Forsberg’s shot took a wicked deflection which sent the ball up into the air and past Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer

Forsberg runs off in celebration after scoring the crucial goal that put Sweden ahead in the last-16 tie against Switzerland

Forsberg runs off in celebration after scoring the crucial goal that put Sweden ahead in the last-16 tie against Switzerland

He was swiftly joined by his Sweden team-mates after his goal separated the two sides with just over 20 minutes to play

He was swiftly joined by his Sweden team-mates after his goal separated the two sides with just over 20 minutes to play

The Sweden fans who had travelled to Russia celebrate Forsberg's goal which was enough to send them into the last-eight

The Sweden fans who had travelled to Russia celebrate Forsberg’s goal which was enough to send them into the last-eight

The Sweden players applaud their supporters at the end of the match after they sealed their place in the last-eight in Russia

The Sweden players applaud their supporters at the end of the match after they sealed their place in the last-eight in Russia

The Switzerland players react after being dumped out of the World Cup round of 16 for the second consecutive tournament

The Switzerland players react after being dumped out of the World Cup round of 16 for the second consecutive tournament

MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS

Sweden (4-4-2): Olsen 6, Lustig 6 (Krafth 82), Lindelof 6.5, Granqvist 6.5, Augustinsson 6, Claesson 6, Svensson 6, Ekdal 5.5, Forsberg 7 (Olsson 82), Berg 6.5 (Thelin 90+1), Toivonen 6

Subs not used: Johnsson, Guidetti, Helander, Hiljemark, Jansson, Rohden, Durmaz, Nordfeldt

Booked: Lustig

Goals: Forsberg 66

 

Manager: Janne Andersson 7

 

Switzerland (4-2-3-1): Sommer 6.5, Lang 5.5, Djourou 6, Akanji 5.5, Rodriguez 6, Behrami 6, Xhaka 6, Shaqiri 6.5, Dzemaili 6 (Seferovic 73, 6), Zuber 6 (Embolo 73, 6.5), Drmic 6

Subs not used: Mvogo, Moubandje, Elvedi, Freuler, Fernandes, Zakaria, Gavranovic, Burki

Booked: Behrami, Xhaka

 

Sent off: Lang

 

Manager: Vladimir Petkovic 5.5

 

Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia) 

Before this game, Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic dismissed suggestions that this is the weaker side of the draw. His team would surprise people, he said.

Well, he was right. Switzerland and indeed Sweden were worse than even we thought and if the victors aren’t rolled out of Russia by whoever they face in the last-eight then something is very wrong indeed.

This was an earnest game of football, played by two limited sides hoping that method and organisation and endeavour would be enough to see them through.

For Sweden it did. Janne Andersson’s team were slightly the more aggressive and created the better chances. But that is a marginal call and relative to the low quality of this game.

Even the winning goal — midway through the second half — was an accident.

Emil Forsberg’s shot from the edge of the penalty area was poorly struck and was heading straight for Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer, only for his central defender Manuel Akanji to deflect it high in to the top corner.

So a bad game was settled by a bad goal and that felt about right.

Early on this felt rather like a game from the undercard and, after the thrills of some of the games that had passed before, that was how it continued to look. With empty seats in the stadium and a definite freshness in the air, this could have been an October friendly in Scandinavia.

In terms of the football, neither team contributed much to stir the soul either. Some of the pre-match talk had hinted at some needle, much of it coming from the mouth of Mikael Lustig. But the Celtic defender’s main contribution of the first 45 minutes was to pick up a needless booking that will now rule him out of Sweden’s next game.

For much of the early running, Sweden did look the more likely of two moderate teams and that was probably to be expected. Indeed it continued. Switzerland were content to sit back and then try and funnel the ball as quickly to Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri on the break.

Switzerland’s Steven Zuber was actually the first player to have a shot on target, curling a shot in to the midriff of Robin Olsen in the eighth minute. But, that apart, it was Sweden who did create the better openings.

Sweden's Martin Olsson falls to the ground inside the Switzerland penalty area after being pushed by Michael Lang

Sweden’s Martin Olsson falls to the ground inside the Switzerland penalty area after being pushed by Michael Lang

 Olsson fell inside the area but the contact was made outside so a free-kick was awarded to Sweden on the edge of the box

 Olsson fell inside the area but the contact was made outside so a free-kick was awarded to Sweden on the edge of the box

Slovenian referee Damir Skomina shows Lang a red card seconds before the end of the game at Saint Petersburg Stadium

Slovenian referee Damir Skomina shows Lang a red card seconds before the end of the game at Saint Petersburg Stadium

SUPER STAT

1994 – This is the first time Sweden have reached the quarter-finals of a World Cup since 1994

On the whole, they tended to snatch at them. Without Zlatan Ibrahomovic these days, Sweden rely on Marcus Berg and Toivonen up front and to say there has been a drop down in quality is an understatement.

Berg had a chance early on only for his shot to strike Swiss defender Manuel Akanji and then Albin Ekdal drove the follow up widely over.

Then, in the 28th minute, a cross from the left reached Berg on the far side of the penalty box and his shot towards Yann Sommer’s bottom right hand corner was pawed away expertly by the Switzerland ‘keeper.

That was an incident of note but there were not many more in the first half. Switzerland were relying heavily on the gifted Shaqiri but his radar wasn’t always on. One cross was expertly delivered in to the area only for Zuber to head over while another passed dangerously across the front of goal and wide.

Switzerland did look capable of creating chances but simply needed a bit more possession. Zuber worked a lovely one-two with Blerim Dzemaili as half time approached only for the latter to blaze over when it seemed easier to hit the target.

Then the chance of the game fell to Sweden’s Ekdal as a lovely cross from Lustig found him totally unattended at the far post on the six yard line. The ball was crying out for a stooping header but Ekdal chose to volley and could only send the chance high over the bar with his instep.

Another Swedish chance was wasted early in the second half, this time by Forsberg, and it was becoming a pattern. There was a lack of composure from both teams in front of goal, that is for sure.

Blerim Dzemaili gestures to one of his Switzerland team-mates after failing to get on the end of a dangerous cross

Blerim Dzemaili gestures to one of his Switzerland team-mates after failing to get on the end of a dangerous cross

Switzerland's Johan Djourou manages to get away from Marcus Berg despite the striker clearly holding the defender's shorts

Switzerland’s Johan Djourou manages to get away from Marcus Berg despite the striker clearly holding the defender’s shorts

Emil Forsberg (left) tries to hold off Switzerland's Valon Behrami as the defensive midfielder attempts to win the ball

Emil Forsberg (left) tries to hold off Switzerland’s Valon Behrami as the defensive midfielder attempts to win the ball

This was further demonstrated by Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka in the 61st minute – his attempt at 20-yard shot slicing off his boot and travelling about a yard – and at the other end by Forsberg who worked hard to win a free-kick on the angle of the area only to smash it straight in to the defensive wall. The ball came back to him for another chance but this time he managed only to dribble it straight out of play for a goal kick.

The midfielder’s next effort, in the 64th minute, was not a whole lot better, the only difference being that it somehow ended up in the goal.

The build-up was decent as Forsberg drifted across the top of the penalty area but his low shot was scuffed and heading straight for the goalkeeper until it struck Akanji on the foot and flew high in to the top corner.

So a game that hadn’t deserved a goal suddenly had a goal and it was now up to Switzerland to get on the front foot and try to drag the tie back from the dead. Two substitutions – both attacking – soon followed as the Swiss tried to take the handbrake off but Shaqiri remained their main outlet if only they could get the ball to him more often.

To their credit, Petkovic’s team did raise their levels. It just turned out to be too late.

Spreading the ball wide down both sides, they started to trouble Sweden with some decent delivery and from a corner in the 79th minute substitute Breel Embolo headed down towards the goal only for Forsberg to clear from the line.

There was another chance, too, right on the 90th minute. After Toivinen’s unnecessary concession of a goal kick, Switzerland worked play down the other end and a minute later a header from Haris Seferovic was saved by Olsen.

There was still time for Michael Lang to be sent off for bringing down the breaking substitute Martin Olsson in added time. Initially referee Damir Skomina awarded a penalty but this was rightly changed to a free kick outside the area on the strength of a VAR review. It didn’t really matter.

Xherdan Shaqiri closes down Ludwig Augustinsson during the first half as Sweden try to start an attack from their own half

Xherdan Shaqiri closes down Ludwig Augustinsson during the first half as Sweden try to start an attack from their own half

Shaqiri questions the referee after being brought down and not being given a free-kick during a frantic first period

Shaqiri questions the referee after being brought down and not being given a free-kick during a frantic first period

The Sweden supporters attempt to rouse their players during the last-16 knockout game at Saint Petersburg Stadium

The Sweden supporters attempt to rouse their players during the last-16 knockout game at Saint Petersburg Stadium

Switzerland head coach Vladimir Petkovic delivers instructions to his players during the opening stages of the game 

Switzerland head coach Vladimir Petkovic delivers instructions to his players during the opening stages of the game, to no avail in the end.

EDITED FROM: dailymail.co.uk


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