Talking Points: Are Sweden better off without Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
Written by: Atrayo Bhattacharya
The Blue and Yellow have looked a cohesive and potent force under manager Janne Andersson.
It was an all-European clash between Sweden and Switzerland in the Round of 16 of the World Cup. The match was a stalemate for a long time, but finally, Emil Forsberg's deflected shot broke the deadlock for the Swedes. Switzerland who had ample time to restore parity couldn't find their way past the rock-solid Swedish defence. The Blue and Yellow have reached the quarterfinals beating the Swiss and now they will face either Colombia or England in the next round
Watch: Sweden 1-0 Switzerland highlights
Here are the key talking points from the game.
5. Sweden have thrived in this World Cup despite the absence of their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The Swedes have given a great account of themselves in Russia as they have worked their socks off as a unit and manager Janne Andersson has played a vital role in creating a sense of unity and togetherness among the Blue and Yellows. Andersson has focused on re-building this side without their talismanic forward, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
He started working from the back and his hard-work has paid off as the Swedes have given absolutely nothing away. Their defence looks sturdy, led by their passionate captain Andreas Granqvist. Not many people gave them the upper hand coming into this tournament for obvious reasons, but the Blue and Yellow have shown their mettle to the world as they topped a group including Germany, Mexico and Korea Republic.
4. Switzerland lack a proper goalscorer
The absence of a proper goalscorer in the final third has been a huge problem for the Swiss. They relied on the likes of Xhedran Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka to step up from midfield but, that's not going to happen in every single game. Players like Josep Drmic, Haris Seferovic and Breel Embolo lack that cutting edge going forward.
Although, Breel Embolo can stun opposition with his lightning pace, his end product is more or less disappointing. While both Seferovic and Drmic seem like they had left their shooting boots back home.
3. Forsberg may have finally found his feet at the World Cup
Emil Forsberg probably the only star in this Swedish side has finally scored a goal. The RB Leipzig midfielder was in the form of his life back in 2016, as he won the Swedish Player of the Year courtesy of his stellar performances in the Bundesliga.
Since then, the 26-year-old failed to replicate the same impact for his national side and coming to this tournament, Andersson and his men hoped that the wide midfielder could hit top gear, which he had failed to do till now. But, a goal against the Swiss which became the decider in the match will do his confidence a world of good. The Blue and Yellows will be hoping that Forsberg hits top gear from here on in as they really need their top players to step up.
2. Manager Janne Andersson has rebuilt the Swedish team into a very competitive unit
Andersson had big boots to fill as former coach Erik Hamren left along with talisman Ibrahimovic. Andersson who had taken unheralded IFK Norrköping to become the Swedish champions back in 2015. He had a clear plan that the Blue and Yellow can't keep relying on a single player, even after his retirement.
So, he brought togetherness and unity to the Swedes. The 55-year-old has literally rebuilt the Swedish side from scratch and now they are reaping the rewards of the same. The Blue and Yellow have started almost every match as underdogs and have given a fight in each and every one of them.
1. Switzerland missed the experience of Stephan Lichsteiner in defence
The Swiss captain and full-back who picked up two yellow cards was badly missed, as he brings loads of experience into the side. Lichtsteiner is pretty solid at the back, but he is also a great attacking threat with his overlapping runs.
The former Juventus defender has a great understanding with Shaqiri and the duo stretch opposition defences with their continuous movement through the flanks and that's what the Swiss lacked today against the sturdy Swedish defence.
Published: Wed Jul 04, 2018 01:21 AM IST