Switzerland could not surmount Sweden’s mountain of defence as a deflected strike from Emil Forsberg (pictured) sent the Swedes into the World Cup quarter-finals for the second time in six decades with a 1-0 win at Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.
But the game also exposed Sweden’s weakness as their strikers, especially Marcus Berg and Albin Ekdal, wasted several half-chances. If Sweden is eyeing the World Cup, they have to score also.
Switzerland was unlucky as defender Manuel Akanji deflected a 66th minute shot from Forsberg into the net instead of allowing keeper Yann Sommer to tackle it. Sommer earlier saved a powerful drive from Marcus Berg.
Xherdan Shaqiri was at the heart of some good moves by Switzerland for the equaliser. Blerim Dzemaili got an opening in the first half in the box but his shot went over. Then Shaqiri created an opportunity for Granit Xhaka who mucked it up.
In the added time, Haris Seferovic got a golden chance for Switzerland but his header was saved by Sweden’s keeper Robin Olsson.
In the dying moments of the game, Sweden got a chance to score again through a penalty after Michael Lang was shown the red card for bringing down their defender Martin Olsson.
The referee consulted VAR and found Lang committed the foul outside the box. He revised the decision on penalty to a free-kick which was saved by Sommer.
Fans of Switzerland expected a wave of attacks led by Shaqiri, Xhaka and Dzemaili in the last 15 minutes of the game. But the strikers lacked creativity despite their intention to score goals. Moreover, Sweden’s wall of defence stood high above them.
Sweden will face England in the quarter-final on July 7 in Samara.
With their strong defensive and cohesive team, Sweden can beat England if only they score.