Sweden versus Switzerland is the most evenly matched pairing of the round of 16 matches. There is not much in between these squads. With title holders Germany crashing out of the competition, Sweden were the surprise winners of Group F. Two wins and a loss earned the Swedes 6 points and a goal differential of +3. The Swiss were runners up in E with 5 points earned through two draw and a win with a goal differential of +1.
The Swiss defence have been impressive in playing a compact tactical system with centre halves Manuel Akanji and Ricardo Rodriguez controlling the middle. This opens up the Swiss counter attack to free up Stephan Lichtensteiner on the right wing to make probing runs and link with the forwards. Granit Xhaka is the steadying influence in the middle of the park, displaying lots of patience with lateral passes and waiting for the right moment to launch the Swiss attack. Xhaka picks his moments as evidenced by his phenomenal strike versus Serbia. His long distance effort, was one of the top goals of the tournament. Switzerland's attack is anchored by Xherdan Shaquiri, who uses his speed to pressure opposing defenders. The x-factor for Switzerland may be their young talent Breel Embolo, who has looked strong up front, but still has yet to find the back of the net in this tournament.
Sweden looked far from convincing in their opener versus South Korea, relying on VAR penalty to secure a 1-0 win. Tony Kroos' last-gasp free kick goal resulted in a 2-1 injury time loss to Germany and provided arguably the most thrilling moment of the group stage. Sweden seemed to put it all together in their final group match by thrashing Mexico 3-0. Sweden's midfield is anchored by their two best players in Seb Larsson and Emil Forsberg. Larsson has played a deeper holding role in the midfield, which helps Sweden control the tempo. Forsberg is Sweden's main attacking threat. In order for Sweden to break down the Swiss defence, Forsberg will need to be actively involved. Up front Sweden's central goalscorer is Marcus Berg, whose partnership with Ola Toivonen has been an enduring fixture of Sweden's squad, they are due for a breakout game.
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