Sweden and France will meet in Stockholm tonight in the most anticipated game of Group A in the World Cup 2018 Qualifications.
Written by Cosmin Mihalescu. June 9, 2017.
In the pre-match press conference, manager Didier Deschamps and captain Hugo Lloris have warned about the game being a dangerous one.
And Les Bleus will have every right to consider this a tough game, after the last encounter between the two sides. France took 13 points in their first five matches in Group A, but it was the match against Sweden in November last year that presented them with the most difficulties: Sweden took the lead through Forsberg in the beginning of the second half, but goals from Paul Pogba and Dimitri Payet ensured that the hosts took all three points.
Sweden was unbeaten until that point in Group A, and that defeat saw them settling for the second place in the group since. But that could change with a win tonight, although France are strong favourites to secure automatic qualification for the World Cup in Russia.
France’s captain, Hugo Lloris anticipated the battle: “It’s an important match. We have to consider it vital against a direct rival. It’s going to be like a great battle. Everyone is ready and we will need a great performance individually and collectively.”
Tottenham’s goalkeeper also spoke about the quality of their upcoming opponents, even though he acknowledged that the retirements of Zlatan Ibrahimović and Kim Kallstrom might help them: “Sweden gave us problems in the first game, they surprised us. It’s a young generation. We’ll need to be on our game against a young and ambitious side. Their speed and their fluidity caused us lots of problems.”
Deschamps identified Forsberg as the main threat for his team, saying that Sweden showed “very good organisation” and they were a “solid ant athletic team who know their football well”.
Deschamps also referred to the fact that the U21 team of Sweden are the current European Champions, emphasising the unity of their group: “Together they are a strong team.”
On the other side, Ola Toivonen acted as the inside man for Sweden. Toivonen currently plays for Toulouse and he anticipated the importance of the game for the French team: “This is a very important game for them. If they get a good result they take a step towards qualifying from the group. I think they have a lot of respect for us Swedes, especially when they remember the match in Paris.”
The 30-year-old Swede also spoke about French sensation Kylian Mbappe, who might be playing an important role in tonight’s clash: “Mbappe is an incredible player to be just 18, Totally awesome. I don’t think people understand how good he is. He is quick, very quick over the first few metres and a skilful finisher. Now he has also gained experience of big matches. He’s a player to watch out for.”
Sweden (4-4-2): Johnsson – Lustig, Granqvist, Helander, Lindelof – Claesson, Forsberg, Ekdal, Seb Larsson – Toivonen, Berg.
France (4-2-3-1): Lloris – Sidibe, Koscielny, Umtiti, Mendy – Pogba, Matuidi – Dembele, Griezmann, Payet – Giroud.
Sweden – France is played tonight (09/06) at Friends Arena, in Stockholm. The match will start at 20:45 CEST.