Sweden vs. Switzerland: Shaqiri Could Prove the Difference in Tight Battle

Jul 02, 2018 4:29 PM EDT

Betting odds: Sweden vs. Switzerland, 10 a.m. ET, Fox

  • Sweden +217
  • Switzerland +171
  • Draw +196

Bet to Watch:

Switzerland +171

It would be a mistake to dismiss the least sexy Round of 16 match. Both Switzerland and Sweden have acquitted themselves well against top competition. Switzerland played Brazil to a 1-1 draw and Sweden almost held on against Germany before ultimately falling, 2-1. They followed that up by trouncing Mexico, 3-0, to win their group. Considering how the draw has opened up, whoever wins this matchup will be only two winnable matches away from the World Cup final. It’s certainly not difficult to imagine either of these teams beating England and Croatia if things aligned properly.

The match itself will likely be a tight, defensive, conservative affair. Sweden were impressive against Germany and Mexico when they were able to defend and counterattack, but struggled to create anything against the weaker South Korea, who forced them to play in possession. Similarly, Switzerland’s calling card is a strong aggressive defense. They consistently destroy the midfield against all opponents, making it impossible for teams to play through them.

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When forced though, Switzerland have more attacking playmakers than Sweden. Well, specifically they have one, Xherdan Shaqiri. He is the kind of skilled playmaker who is made for international play. He needs to be the focal point of an attack — his skill set is built on having the ball at his feet — but he’s never been quite good enough to carry a top club team. He also isn’t able to produce as a second banana.

Switzerland are perfect for him, happy to let him provide the attacking spark while building a very stubborn defense behind him. His last-second goal gave Switzerland a win over Serbia, and he can be the difference maker again against Sweden.

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