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Review: Sweden – Switzerland

Review: Sweden – Switzerland
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An unlucky deflection by Manuel Akanji was the difference in Sweden’s 1-0 win over Switzerland.

The first serious attempt at goal in Saint Petersburg came in the 8th minute, when Marcus Berg found himself in a position to endanger Yann Sommer’s net, but shot the ball way off the intended target. Seconds later, a Swiss defensive error led to another potentially dangerous situation. Both of Sweden’s attempts in the aftermath of the mistake were blocked. The match was pretty even. At first Sweden had more possession, then it was Switzerland who controlled the ball. Neither of them was really creative. What they were was careful and cagey. Switzerland’s attacking philosophy was simple. The center forward (in today’s case Josip Drmic) acted as a decoy to draw the central defenders outside of the box. The ball was given to Shaqiri, who after a couple of dribbles crosses the ball with his left foot in search of an incoming Steven Zuber ор Blerim Dzemaili, who made forward runs as shadow strikers.

Yann Sommer successfully stopped Marcus Berg’s second chance of the match in the 29th minute. The Swiss goalkeeper had to fully stretch to make the save too. Mikael Lustig was the recipient of the first booking today. Dzemaili was in an excellent position to score in the 39th minute. His powerful shot from inside the penalty area went over the bar. It was Switzerland’s best opportunity up to that point. Albin Ekdal had an even better chance two minutes later, but managed to miss from close range after a great Lustig cross. Opportunities like that come rare in cautious matches such as this one. Missing them could have turned out to be very costly. The first half went as expected and finished scoreless.

After 20 minutes of fouls and continuous interruptions, Sweden took the lead the only way it could in a game such as this one – from an own goal. Emil Forsberg found some space and took a shot that was going straight at the keeper. However, Akanji put a leg where he needn’t have and diverted the ball inside his own net. A killer blow for Switzerland. In the 73rd minute, Embolo and Seferovic replaced Dzemaili and Zuber. Vladimir Petkovic’s men realized the gravity of the situation and started piling on the pressure. Corner kick after corner kick, the Swedes kept backing down further and further inside their own box.

Martin Olsson for Emil Forsberg and Emil Krafth for Mikael Lustig were the game’s next substitutions. Janne Andersson’s men were confident defensively. Olsen kept his cool on a Seferovic header in the first of three injury-time minutes. In the last minute, Sweden went into a counter attack. Martin Olsson was flying towards the keeper, leaving Lang with no choice but to push the Swedish player in order to prevent him from scoring. Damir Skomina showed on the penalty spot and sent the Swiss defender to the locker room. VAR showed the foul occurred just outside the box, Skomina overturned his decision, Sommer saved the ensuing free kick attempt and the final whistle sounded. An own goal was the difference. Sweden moves on.