Sweden vs Italy Preview: Azzurri hoping to keep reputation alive against Swedes

The Italians have not failed to reach the tournament for 60 years and will be looking to overcome a tough trip to Scandinavia.

Sweden vs Italy Preview: Azzurri hoping to keep reputation alive against Swedes
Gian Piero Ventura and Gianluigi Buffon look ahead to qualifier with Sweden (Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jonathan Nackstrand)

Italy travel to Sweden for a place in next summer’s 2018 World Cup on Friday evening, as the Azzurri look to continue to appear at the tournament.

The Italians won the competition back in 2006. when it was hosted in Germany and have managed to qualify for every tournament since 1958.

This time, Gian Piero Ventura’s men will need to overcome a difficult challenge from their Nordic counterparts in a playoff game, after finishing second during the group stages.

Team News

Sweden will be heading into the crucial first-leg of at Friends Arena with discipline at the forefront of their minds.

Manager Janne Andersson has warned his stars to try and not receive any yellow cards during the tie, as six are on the verge of missing the final leg due to suspension.

Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof, Andreas Granqvist, Emil Krafth, Jakob Johansson, Martin Olsson and Jimmy Durmaz are all on thin-ice, as they all remain one caution away from missing the return fixture at the San Siro on Monday.

Mikael Lustig will miss the tie with a suspension, whilst Swansea City's Olsson is in a race to be fit following a hamstring strain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Italy doubtful over strikers

Italy will travel to Solna – just north of the capital Stockholm – looking to continue their run of successive tournament appearances, however, they will have concerns with their striking options ahead of the tie.

Both Ciro Immobile and Andrea Belotti are both doubtful for the tie as they both look to regain their fitness, whilst Simeone Zaza could also miss the important clash.

The in-form Valencia striker picked up a knock to his knee during training, an injury that was pre-existing before his call-up to the national team.

Squads and Predicted Line-ups:

Sweden: Johnsson, Nordfeldt, Olsen; Granqvist, Krafth, Helander, Johan Larsson, Augustinsson, Olsson, Lustig, Jansson, Lindelof; Ekdal, Forsberg, Svensson, Johansson, Sema, Rohden, Seb Larsson, Claesson; Thelin, Guidetti, Berg, Toivonen.

Projected XI: Olsen; Johan Larsson, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson; Claesson, Johansson, Seb Larsson, Forsberg; Berg, Toivonen.

Italy: Buffon, Donnarumma, Perin; Barzagli, Rugani, D’Ambrosio, Astori, Zappacosta, Chiellini, Bonucci, Darmian; Candreva, De Rossi, Bernardeschi,Veratti, Spinazzola, Parolo, Gagliardini; Immobile, Eder, Insigne, Gabbiadini, El Shaarawy.

Predicted XI: Buffon; Bonucci, Chiellini, Barzagli; Darmian, Veratti, De Rossi, Spinazzola; Belotti, Immobile, Insigne.

 

Background

 

The two nations have previously met 23 times with the Italians being the more successful of the two. The Azzurri have managed to get 11 victories over their Scandinavian counterparts, whilst also having six draws and defeats to the Nordic foes.

 

The last time the two countries met was during the Euro 2016 tournament when Italy scored a late goal through Eder to secure their place in the Round of 16, whilst the Swedes were sent home during a disappointing competition.