Italy vs Sweden Preview: Azzurri face missing first World Cup in 60 years

The Italians host Sweden at the San Siro on Monday, as they look to overturn a 1-0 deficit suffered on Friday night.

Italy vs Sweden Preview: Azzurri face missing first World Cup in 60 years
Gianluigi Buffon and Gian Piero Ventura talk to the press ahead of their crucial second-leg tie against Sweden on Monday (Photo Credit: Getty Images/Claudio Villa)

Sweden will head to the San Siro on Monday night with a slender 1-0 lead against Italy as they look to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia next summer.

However, the Azzurri will be looking to show a reaction to their surprising defeat in Stockholm on Friday night, as they look to avoid missing their first World Cup in six decades.

The only goal of the game came from a corner kick that was headed on by Ola Toivonen and landed at Jakob Johansson, who rifled in a shot that was deflected past a helpless Gianluigi Buffon, less than five minutes after coming on as a substitute at the Friends Arena.

Italy, who looked inferior to their Swede counterparts for most of the game, will be hoping that they can turn the tie around and with the backing of their home fans, be on the plane to Russia in the summer.

Italy have midfield problems

Gian Piero Ventura has been forced into making changes to his starting line-up, with Marco Verratti being suspended for the second-leg as he picked up a caution ruling him out, which could see Jorginho make his debut for his national side.

The Napoli midfielder has had a productive season for the Serie A leaders, however, he has never had to perform for the senior national side, which could be a concern for the Azzurri in a fixture of this magnitude.

Manchester United's Matteo Darmian was Italy's best player during the first-leg and should be in contention to continue in the starting XI, whilst Leonardo Bonucci is expected to play despite breaking his nose in a challenge with Toivonen. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Better options

Ventura will have his attacking options in a better shape following the defeat to the Meatballers, as Andrea Belotti – who was guilty of missing a glorious chance in the first six minutes – back to full fitness, whilst Simeone Zaza should also have recovered from a knee injury which ruled him out for the first-leg.

Swedish hero could start

Sweden will be full of confidence following their shock win, with many not having given the Yellow Army much of a chance, but will keep their feet on the ground for the return leg.

The Swedes will be able to welcome Mikael Lustig back into the matchday squad after he served his suspension, whilst Emil Krafth and Albin Ekdal could both miss out after having to come off injured during the tie at the Friends Arena.

That could mean a start for hero Johansson, as he replaced Ekdal in the first leg, and it is believed Janne Andersson will look to him from the beginning.

Squads and Predicted Line-ups

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

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

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

Predicted XI: Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson; Claesson, Seb Larsson, Johansson, Forsberg; Berg, Toinonven.

Background

The second leg of this World Cup play-off will be the 24th time the two nations have met, however, this will be one of the more important meetings between the countries.

The Italians will be hoping they can take momentum from the fact that they have beaten the Swedes on 11 separate occasions and can advance to the Finals in Russia next summer.