World Cup Playoff Second Leg Preview
Date: Monday, 13th November 2017
Location: San Siro, Milan
Kick off: 20:45 (CET)
After a Heroic performance in Stockholm on Friday, the Swedes need just a draw away in Milan to secure victory.
Against the expectations of the masses, Sweden will travel to Milan with a one goal lead over the Italians, thanks to a 61st minute strike from Jakob Johansson in the first leg.
This has put them in the driving seat and heaped pressure on the Italians, who face not qualifying for the World Cup for the first time in 50 years. This notion is shared by goalkeeping legend and captain, Gianluigi Buffon, who at 39, will retire after this last throw of the World Cup dice. He admitted his team were in a state of “high tension” and that they can “make no mistakes” in this second leg on home soil. He explained that his team are in difficult position, but they can definitely overcome the Swedes. He said that although Sweden “are a solid side…. their performance will make little difference and it all depends on us (Italy)”.
A view shared in the opposite camp by Swedish Captain, Andreas Granqvist, who said “The pressure is all on them”, whilst coach, Janne Andersson, although weary of Italy, explained “Courage” has been a hot topic for his team and he expressed a need for his team to “avoid a defensive position” and to take “the initiative and go for it when we have the chance”.
From this, we can infer that Sweden won’t be resting on their laurels and they will be going for that all important away goal. If they can secure this then it should surely be enough for the result. It is worth considering that except for their final game against the Netherlands, they have scored in their last 7 away games which is an impressive statistic.
Matters are complicated for Italy as they will be missing key midfielder, Marco Verratti, due to a suspension he acquired unnecessarily in the first leg, while defender, Leonardo Bonucci, will have to deal with wearing a protective mask after he suffered a broken nose in Stockholm.
However, they can bank on a very impressive home record, with their last loss at home dating back as far as June 16, 2015, but this said, their most recent match-up at home saw them draw against Macedonia, who are not as strong as Sweden and if a draw is all they can manage, then it simply won’t suffice this time.
Meanwhile, Sweden have the same squad to choose from as those who championed at home and you can expect more physical play from a tough Swedish side. If they keep playing that tough, which some may consider, dirty football, the Italians don’t seem to be able to deal with it. As such, they can make sure that the Italians don’t get that all important goal which would level things up via continuing this style of play. The fact of the matter is that the Italians are terribly weak at the front already, so if they can keep them quiet with this technique it will mean the Italians will struggle to outclass them.
Sweden are just 90 minutes away from qualification and causing yet another upset in this World Cup campaign. If they can keep the momentum of the first leg going, they should have no trouble. Plus, if they score again against this poor attacking Italian side, then it is game over.
This is a very exciting prospect for fans on both sides and so we will be in for an exciting game this evening it seems, both teams look like they are out to win and so, it will be one not to miss out on.
Ultimately, it will be up to the Italians to make sure that they nick a goal early on to get this game in motion, but if they concede first, then expect to see Sweden in Russia come June.