Sweden is the next team on our list, and the Blue and Yellow will play in the tough Group F alongside Germany, Mexico, and South Korea. They will face South Korea at the start of the tournament as +105 favorites to win the game at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium in Nizhny Novgorod on June 18th, 2018, while five days later Sweden meets Germany as a huge +550 underdog to win the clash at Fisht Stadium in Sochi. The Blue and Yellow’s final game of the group phase against Mexico is set for June 27th, 2018, at Ekaterinburg Arena in Ekaterinburg, and at the moment, Mexico is a slight +150 favorite in this one.
In 1958 Sweden hosted the FIFA World Cup, finishing at the second spot after a 5-2 defeat against Brazil in the Final which is their best result in eleven partaking so far. They were third-placed two times, in Brazil 1950 and USA 1994, but the Blue and Yellows missed the previous two tournaments, so the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will be something special for this generation of Swedish players. If Zlatan Ibrahimovic joins them on a trip, these guys can make it through the group phase, despite there are no easy rivals in the Group F.
Winner: +15000 at Bet365 Sportsbook
To Reach Semi-Finals: +1200
To Reach Quarter-Finals: +700
Group Qualifying Yes/No: +125/-163
Group Phase Matches:
A lot of rumors circulating these days about Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return to the national team after his retiring in 2016, and there’s no football fan in Sweden who wouldn’t like to see Zlatan in Russia this summer. In 116 caps Ibrahimovic has bagged 62 goals and he is a top goalscorer in the history of the Sweden national football team, so even in his mid 30’s Zlatan could be a great addition for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. After recovering from a long-term injury, he decided to join Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS, and it seems like a perfect opportunity to recover a full match fitness, while he declared that no one can stop him to play in Russia this summer if he feels ready to go.
However, Sweden managed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so there are still some guys who can play football, and the captain of this generation is a 32-year old centre-back Andreas Granqvist (70 caps, 6 goals) who perform with Krasnodar in the Russian Premier League, while alongside him at the back we should see the 23-year old Victor Lindelof (19 caps, 1 goal) from Manchester United. The starting full-backs should be Mikael Lustig (64 caps, 6 goals) from Celtic, and Martin Olsson (42 caps 5 goals) from Swansea City, while both these players are pretty useful in the final third.
The midfielders Sebastian Larsson (98 caps, 6 goals), Emil Forsberg (34 caps, 6 goals), and Jimmy Durmaz (44 caps, 3 goals) are all important members of this Sweden team, while at the front, Marcus Berg (55 caps, 18 goals) and Ola Toivonen (57 caps, 13 goals) both will be the biggest threat to rivals’ defenders. The manager Janne Anderson prefers a balanced 4-4-2 formation, and he rarely steps away from a cautious approach, as he’s well aware of his team’s limits.
The road to 2018 World Cup: Sweden qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia after a shocking 1-0 aggregate victory over Italy in the European qualification playoffs, winning the first leg at home, and successfully defending the lead in the second leg in Italy. It was a brilliant defensive work by the Blue and Yellows who finished at the second spot of the European qualifiers Group A with 19 points, a 6-1-3 record, and a 26:9 goal difference, four points behind France, and ahead of the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Luxembourg and Belarus. They were excellent on the home soil, recording four wins and one draw with an 18:2 goal difference, while seven out of their ten qualifying games had at least three goals in the total.
Gains: The Blue and Yellows are a well-organized team with an impressive work rate which can damage even the strongest teams in the world. Likewise, their aerial ability and strength are big advantages, while Sweden is particularly dangerous after the attacking set-pieces.
Shortcomings: The lack of creativity is definitely the biggest issue in this Sweden team, often struggling to control the ball in the midfield, while their technique surely is not impressive. Also, they could have some problems against Mexico and South Korea, as these two sides are both agile and aggressive.
Players to Watch: Emil Forsberg, Jimmy Durmaz, Ola Toivonen, Martin Olsson
Top Goalscorer: Zlatan Ibrahimovic +10000, Emil Forsberg +15000, Marcus Berg +15000
MY PICK: Sweden vs. Mexico Both Teams to Score YES (-125) – this will be the final match of the group phase, and it could be easily a decisive one, as both these sides target the second round in 2018 World Cup. Hereof, we should see an entertaining match with a lot of action in front of both goalkeepers, so I assume each team will find the back of the net.
ADDITIONAL PICK: Group Forecast – 1st – Germany, 2nd – Sweden (+225) – if the Blue and Yellows use their advantages against South Korea and Mexico, we’ll see them in the Round of 16, while Germany looks untouchable for all other three teams, so this order at the end of the group stage seems pretty reasonable.
Against the Odds: Sweden to Reach the Quarter-Finals (+700) – if Sweden finishes at the second spot of the Group F, they will probably meet Brazil in the second round, and it could be easily the end of the road for the Blue and Yellows. Another interesting pick is to go with Sweden at the top of the group, and the market for this achievement is set at +650.