ST PETERSBURG (Reuters) - Sweden are the underdogs going into their World Cup last 16 match with Switzerland but are counting on strategy and trust in the collective to help them reach the quarter-finals, their captain Andreas Granqvist said on Monday.
Sweden face Switzerland in St Petersburg on Tuesday in what promises to be a game of fine margins.
The Swiss came through Group E unbeaten, winning once and drawing twice to finish second behind Brazil, while Sweden, whose defensive style of play has been criticized in some quarters, topped Group F despite being beaten by Germany.
“We know what got us this far,” Granqvist told a news conference. “We know Switzerland have been playing really well over a long period of time.
“They are the favorites for the match tomorrow and that we would in any way underestimate them is not even in the cards. We know what brought us here — very strong collective defense and the courage to attack as well.”
With the teams evenly matched and neither boasting a wealth of attacking options, the tie could well be decided by a penalty shootout, and Sweden coach Janne Andersson said he had a plan for that eventuality.
“It’s my job to decide on the players who need to perform, in this case for the penalty shootout situation,” the 55-year-old said. “We’ve talked about it in the squad... and I’m going to rank the players, the entire squad in terms of penalties.
“We have a clear plan in place for what we’re going to do, but I’m not going to enter into any more details.”
Granqvist, who has scored two penalties in Russia already, said he was confident of adding to that tally if it came down to it, but was hoping Sweden could prevail in normal time.
“If we do get to penalties, Janne will decide the order and call the shots. I have absolutely no clue at this stage,” he added.
Beaten 2-1 by a last-gasp goal by 2014 champions Germany in the group stages, the Swedes were aggrieved over what they perceived to be excessive celebrations by the German coaching staff in front of their bench.
Andersson criticized the Germans in the wake of that defeat, but both his captain and him denied they gloated over Germany’s shocking failure to get out of their group.
“I think it’s unfortunate for Germany that they were eliminated,” Andersson said. “As far as we’re concerned we don’t really worry about how other teams are doing.
“There was absolutely no gloating whatsoever in terms of Germany or any other team for that matter.”
Reporting by Simon Jennings in St Petersburg; Editing by Christian Radnedge