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    Sweden to hold Italy in World Cup playoff

    10 November 2017 | WC Qualification UEFA | Preview
    Sweden to hold Italy in World Cup playoff
    ninopavisic /

    Italy have become synonymous with the World Cup. However, there is a very real possibility that the Azzurri may miss Russia 2018, as Giampiero Ventura’s side face a tricky two-legged World Cup playoff with Sweden.

    The first leg takes place on Friday night at the Friends Arena in Solna. The home side will certainly not be easy opponents for the four-time world champions.

    Sweden negotiated a tough section to finish as runners-up in a group that saw France earn the automatic qualification spot.

    Janne Andersson’s side were strong on home soil in qualifying, winning four of their five games, including a prestigious 2-1 victory over France. The home side’s qualifiers on home soil were also high scoring, as four of their five games produced over 2.5 goals.

    They also managed to keep clean sheets in three of their five home qualifiers, conceding just two goals in the process.

    Recent history is against a Sweden win, as they have failed to beat Italy in the last three meetings, suffering two defeats in the process.

    Italy have taken part in every World Cup since the 1958 edition and will be desperate to make it to next year’s edition in Russia.

    The Azzurri were strong qualifying, winning seven of their ten games. However, a 3-0 loss at qualification rivals Spain proved to be a decisive one, as Julen Lopetegui’s side clinched the automatic qualification spot.

    To say that the visitors have a good recent record in World Cup qualifying would be a massive understatement, as the defeat against Spain in Madrid was the Azzurri’s only loss in their last 37 outings in qualifying.

    Italy’s recent qualifiers have been relatively low scoring, with four of their last six games producing under 2.5 goals. This game could well follow suit.

    Italy have to be favourites to win over the two legs. However, at the Friends Arena, Sweden will be difficult opponents and Forebet predicts the Scandinavians will hold the visitors to a draw.

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