Russia and Sweden go head to head in the UEFA Nations League clash with both teams coming into this tie with contrasting fortunes from the last round.

Russia followed up their excellent World Cup campaign on home soil and proved their performance wasn’t just a fluke. The Russians ensured they started their UEFA Nations League campaign on a high note with a 2-1 win over Turkey in their opening match. Russia will now be looking to continue on that impressive form over Sweden who have struggled of late in the last International round.

During their clash against Turkey, it was World Cup hero, Denis Cherysev who gave the Russians an early lead. Although, right before the stroke of half-time, Turkey had pulled in an equaliser. Russia then saw a change of fortunes and played a miserable second half, with only a single shot on target during that period.

However, it was that one shot that changed the complexion of the game, as the WC hosts scored from it to take all three points.

That win was followed up by a friendly 1-5 thrashing of the Czech Republic. Overall, Russia can consider themselves favourites to win this clash against Sweden, as the side look confident enough to beat their Scandinavian opponents. Russia sits on top of their UEFA Nations League group with three points.

Sweden on the other hand, much like Russia had a good World cup campaign, reaching the quarterfinals of the tournament, only to lose to England. They brought this confidence into their UEFA Nations League campaign, and started their opening game, against Turkey with a bang.

The Swedes took a two-goal lead, but where Russia succeeded, the Swedes failed. Turkey rallied on to finish the game 3-2, handing Sweden a massive, confidence-crushing defeat.

Team News & Tactics

Russia

Long-serving goalkeeper, Igor Akinfeev retired from International football last month, so Russia will undoubtedly miss his presence in goal. Replacing him would be Andrey Lunev, who started Russia’s previous match in goal. Lunev is expected to begin again and will hope to become their No.1 in the time to come.

Midfielder Aleksandr Golovin, who missed Russia’s last International round-up is now available after recovering from his injury. The midfielder is expected to slot straight into the Starting lineup against Sweden. However, Aleksandr Erokhin, who started Russia’s game against Turkey is not named in the squad for the current International round-up.

Russia are expected to name a strong lineup for the Sweden game, including the likes of Denis Cheryshev, Dzyuba and Golovin in the lineup.

Probable Starting Lineup (4-3-2-1) Lunev; Fernandes, Neustadter, Dzhikiya, Kudryashov; Zobnin, Gazinskiy, Kuzyaev; Cheryshev, Golovin; Dzyuba

Sweden

Good news for Sweden, as Emil Forsberg is back in the squad after missing the last round of International fixtures with an injury. The midfielder is expected to slot straight into the starting lineup for their clash against Russia. As a result, Viktor Claesson, who played in Forsberg’s position in the last round, will switch back to his preferred role on the opposite flank.

Sweden are expected to name a strong starting lineup to counter the Russians, including a central defensive partnership of Andreas Granqvist and Victor Lindelof. Granqvist missed the last round-up as Sweden lost to Austria and Turkey, but his presence should shore up the defence, as the pair formed a great partnership during the Summer’s World Cup.

Probable Starting Lineup (4-4-2)Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Granqvist, Augustinsson; Claesson, Larsson, Ekdal, Forsberg; Berg, Thelin

Key Stats

  • Russia is in a good run of form, winning three of their last five International fixtures
  • Sweden, since their World Cup campaign, have lost all games so far.
  • In their previous eight meetings, Sweden have the upper hand with three victories.
  • In those eight games, a total of 21 goals were scored, with Russia winning only twice.
  • This will be the first time since the World Cup that both teams face an opponent from the summer’s tournament.

Player to Watch

Dennis Cheryshev

Denis Cheryshev looks to continue his impressive for for Russia against Sweden. (Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty)

Denis Cheryshev looks to continue his impressive for Russia against Sweden. (Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty)

The Russian winger has had a different form for his national side compared to his club career to date. Not a prolific player, neither as a creator nor as a goalscorer, Cheryshev showed a different side to his game at the World Cup, finishing the tournament with three goals to his name as he helped fire Russia into the quarter-finals of the competition. But at club level, he’s had a quiet season so far scoring once in seven La Liga games to date.

If Russia are to have a good performance going forward, especially against Sweden, Cheryshev needs to bring back the spirit in him that helped perform to the level, he did during the summer. Russians rely on a team game and not individual brilliance, and Cheryshev needs to combine well with the likes of Golovin and others to become a formidable part of this group, starting with a good performance against Sweden

Prediction

Russia 2-1 Sweden

The Swedes did perform well at the World Cup, but returning to the International fold, they began rather poorly, losing to Austria and Turkey so far. Russia, on the other hand, has been able to bring their World Cup form into the UEFA Nations League and are expected to continue it against Sweden.

The hosts can take their chances against a Swedish side that looks out of sorts and of ideas, as the likes of Golovin and Cheryshev will look to exploit it they way they can. But expect the Russian to take all three points and make their place on top of their group more comfortable.