Sweden celebrates its quarterfinal berth. (Henry Romero/Reuters)

极速时时彩网站 www.f2far.cn ST. PETERSBURG — Sweden??Yeah. This World Cup has been boasting the small and the smallish from Belgium to Croatia to Uruguay to a small-ranked team from large Russia — and don’t omit Iceland — so it might as well go ahead and flaunt a continuing display of Swedish guts.

Swedish guts, formed and toughened near (and inside) the Arctic Circle, will grace the World Cup quarterfinals because Sweden did to Switzerland what it did to the Netherlands and Italy in qualifying and to Mexico and Germany (indirectly) in the big show: bummed it out. Shoot (or not), Sweden’s 1-0 win in stunning St. Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday might have seen its most telling moments in two candidates for the Hall of Fame of Lousy Finishes, both by Sweden.

One came in the eighth minute when Marcus Berg sprang free to the right of the goal and then sprayed the shot so awry it seemed bound for the Baltic Sea. The other came in the 41st after a dazzling leftward cross from Mikael Lustig cleared a little thicket of players in front of the goal to find its way gorgeously to Albin Ekdal’s right foot, which redirected it so hopelessly over the goal that one could plausibly cry.

“We’re talking football here, and football is a game played by a team,” Sweden Manager Janne Andersson said. “Never forget that.”

All right.

Andersson, of course, used to manage Alets IK, Laholms FK, Halmstads BK, Orgryte IS and IFK Norrkoping, any misspellings unintended. Therefore the 55-year-old counts as an epitome of his starless team. It’s mostly made up of guys who play here in Russia or in Seattle for MLS or in Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates near the Oman border. Its goal against Switzerland came in the 66th minute from Emil Forsberg, who plays for the steep-rising RB Leipzig in Germany. The Swedes do have Victor Lindelof, the Manchester United defender. They do this all two years after their towering star, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, retired from national play before he wound up in Los Angeles and tweeting about LeBron James this week as well as posing naked at a sturdy 36 in ESPN’s magazine.

“It just means so much to me,” said Forsberg, whose shot from the top of the box deflected off the right foot of Switzerland’s Manuel Akanji and past a frozen goalkeeper Yann Sommer, the whole thing failing to qualify as beautiful. “I’m just so proud to see and witness what we are achieving together. It brings tears to my eyes.”

Those tears follow the tears from the manager who felt deeply moved by all Sweden’s running and loyalty to purpose in the 3-0 win over Mexico last Wednesday that clinched Group F, whereupon Sweden’s Ludwig Augustinsson said that, of course, his team didn’t actually expect to win?the group.


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“They have never been called the favorites — not in qualifiers, not in group matches, but then, they’ve found their way forward,” said a deeply disappointed Switzerland Manager Vladimir Petkovic. He saw “a good physically conditioned team” that did “precisely what they are very good at,” and he said, “Yeah, there was something missing in that match [for Switzerland], but over the past matches I’ve seen with the Swedish team, all of the opponents are having problems developing their emotions against them.”

And then: “When they score a goal, it is always extremely difficult to crack that nut.”

It has blossomed into one hard nut. In European qualifying, the Swedes found themselves unkindly dished into a group with France and the Netherlands, yet they tied for second with the mighty latter and ousted it on goal difference. Then they had to win a home-and-home playoff with Italy to get here, which they did almost humorously by grinding out a 1-0 win in Sweden and a herculean 0-0 draw at the San Siro in Milan, which left the Italian fans eerily silent and caused the first Italy-less World Cup in 60 years.

Everybody noticed that fresh fact; few noticed all that much about Sweden.

For one thing, Ibrahimovic’s shine had left it.

The Los Angeles Galaxy member looms legitimately in discussions because he’s an unmissable part of the Swedish team’s historical arc, having departed in the same year (2016) in which Andersson stepped aboard. His part of the story dovetails with this apparent experiment in post-star team sociology. It also means Andersson must field fair questions that concern Ibrahimovic, which he does without gruffness or derision but also without interest.

About the squad then and the squad now, he said: “We’re not going to talk about the team before. We’re talking about now and this squad.” About Forsberg “inheriting” the team, he said: “I don’t think he’s inherited it from somebody else. We’re a team starting off with a new team-building.”

Andersson is a serious-looking man with a serious voice that gives serious answers: “We know we are a good team. .?.?. What other teams and countries think about this, that’s not terribly interesting, really. .?.?. Here’s my thinking. I’m a little bit crazy this way. I don’t think I’ve dug deep down to find out how I feel. .?.?. I don’t think I’m taking it in. I’m not taking in any of this right now.”

So he waxed about the team concept, including the importance of the physicians and equipment people.

“We’re so confident in what we do,” Forsberg said.

“Football is really about team sport, and this team personifies that approach,” Andersson said.

“You need to stand with both feet on the ground knowing it’s perfectly possible to succeed,” Forsberg said.

Yeah, here’s Sweden.

—Chuck Culpepper

***

In-game updates

With just seconds left, Sweden’s Martin Olsson races down the pitch but is pushed by Michael Lang. There’s no penalty shot, though, because it was outside the penalty area. Ola Toivonen takes the free kick and is stopped as time expires.

Switzerland comes soooo close in stoppage time, pressing relentlessly. The best chance comes from Ricardo Rodriguez, whose pass curls to the near post for Haris Seferovic. Robin Olsen quickly makes the save.

At the 84-minute mark, Sweden seems content to drop back and concede possession, focusing on defense. Let’s see if it backfires, because Switzerland is putting on incredible pressure with shot after shot.

Sweden is under intense pressure, with Switzerland entering double-digit territory on corner kicks. But Switzerland can’t convert on Breel Embolo’s shot because the man of the moment, Emil Forsberg, is there to help out on the post and Andreas Granqvist knocks it clear.

Goal!

Emil Forsberg breaks through in the 66th minute, giving Sweden a 1-0 lead. Given the defensive play, this might end up that way.

A minute earlier, he had?been?brought down twice by Valon Behrami, who gets a yellow for his first effort. On the second, Forsberg sends his free kick straight into the two-man defensive wall. Yikes.

Switzerland is pressing in the 52nd minute, but, like Sweden’s flurry before it, nothing comes of it.

With chance after chance failing, tensions are starting to rise. The Swedes beg for a call on Xherdan Shaqiri for his play on Emil Forsberg, to no avail.

***

First-half updates

Sweden and Switzerland take a scoreless tie into the locker rooms at halftime. Each side has had its chances in what has been a tight first half. As expected,?defense was the story of the first half.

In the 38th minute, Switzerland’s Blerim Dzemaili rockets a shot high over the crossbar on what looked for all the world like a great scoring opportunity. Moments later, Sweden’s?Albin Ekdal gets a chance at an open net but delivers a shocking miss, taking a pass from Mikael Lustig and failing to convert. That one stings, as Ekdal’s reaction shows.

Sweden has a flurry of activity in front of the Swiss goal in the 28th minute in a wild scene in which Yann Sommer comes up with a save on a close-in shot by Marcus Berg that was headed for the corner. Sweden is pressing well and Sommer is up to the challenge.

For Switzerland, Xherdan Shaqiri gets points for creativity, sprinting down the side a couple of times, but his passes have been ill-timed.

After Switzerland controlled the ball at the outset, Sweden is peppering Swiss goaltender Yann Sommer with shots, but?cannot find the net so far. The pitch is a?little slippery after rain fell in St. Petersburg, and the players are losing their footing a bit in the early going.

Baby watch

Sweden’s Andreas Granqvist may be a little preoccupied because his wife, Sophie, is due to give birth to their second child in Sweden on game day. He’ll cross his fingers that perhaps the doctors’ calculations were off or that the baby has other ideas about being born on this day.

“It’s hard to go home when you have a last-16 game to play,”?Granqvist told reporters. “So far, nothing has happened at home. We know how the situation is — my wife is very strong and she has many of her nearest and dearest around her.”

Switzerland’s Embolo traveled home for the birth of his child but is back with the team now, although he is not starting.

Team profiles

Sweden?

  • Previous results: Defeated South Korea, 1-0. Lost to Germany, 2-1. Defeated Mexico, 3-0.
  • Best World Cup finish: Second place, 1958.
  • Notable: This is Sweden’s 50th World Cup game, making it only the 11th team with that many. Only Mexico has played in more World Cup games without winning the tournament.
  • FIFA world ranking: 24. ELO world ranking: 17.

Switzerland

  • Previous results: Drew with Brazil, 1-1. Defeated Serbia, 2-1. Drew with Costa Rica, 2-2.
  • Best World Cup finish: Quarterfinals, 1934, 1938 and 1954.
  • Notable: Eleven of Switzerland’s last 14 World Cup goals have been scored in the second half. Four of its five goals this year have come in the second half.
  • FIFA world ranking: 6. ELO world ranking: 11.

—Cindy Boren

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