MX23RW : Monday, June 14 08:33:30| >> :120:49736:49736:
Mar 25, 2021 at 7.45pm UK at Friends Arena
SwedenSweden
1-0
GeorgiaGeorgia
Claesson (35')
Ibrahimovic (54'), Olsson (58'), Augustinsson (64')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Dvali (90+5')

Preview: Sweden vs. Georgia - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's World Cup Qualifying - Europe clash between Sweden and Georgia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Sweden begin their World Cup qualifying campaign with a home fixture against Georgia, aware that every result will count in a five-nation group involving Spain.

Meanwhile, Georgia head into this contest on the back of a five-match winless streak, a period which includes their defeat to North Macedonia in the Euro 2020 playoffs.


Match preview

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic pictured on February 13, 2021© Reuters

The return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has dominated the headlines in Swedish football, the nation's greatest player ending a near five-year absence on the international stage.

However, while the presence of the 39-year-old could prove to be beneficial in the short term, Janne Andersson cannot allow the veteran's inclusion to derail his team's progress during 2021.

On the back of two wins from eight matches since September, there is an argument that Ibrahimovic's recall was necessary, especially ahead of Euro 2020.

Nevertheless, fixtures against Georgia and Kosovo should restrict the AC Milan star to the substitutes' bench, allowing Alexander Isak to learn his trade with their country.

At a time when Sweden conceded 16 goals in eight matches before the end of 2020, Georgia went through the same period without conceding more than two goals in a game.

Despite facing lower-quality opposition, newly-appointed boss Willy Sagnol has something to build on in his opening fixtures in charge.

Securing the services of the former Bayern Munich defender is a significant coup for Georgian football, fresh off going within 90 minutes of reaching Euro 2020 via the playoff route.

Although Georgia have not defeated high-profile opposition since their friendly win over Spain in 2016, they have held Denmark, Republic of Ireland and North Macedonia to draws in the last 19 months.

Sweden form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L

Georgia form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • D


Team News

Sweden manager Janne Andersson on November 13, 2017© Reuters

Isak and Marcus Berg could get the nod for Sweden, resulting in Ibrahimovic taking a spot among the replacements.

Filip Helander and Albin Ekdal may earn recalls in defence and midfield respectively, while Dejan Kulusevski could switch to a role on the flank.

Jesper Karlsson is expected to remain on the substitutes' bench despite his excellent form for AZ Alkmaar.

Georgia will be forced into several changes with attacking trio Zuriko Davitashvili, Valeri Qazaishvili and Nika Kacharava all missing out on a place in the squad.

Levan Shengelia, Tornike Okriashvili and Giorgi Kvilitaia are in line to earn opportunities in the starting lineup.

Sweden possible starting lineup:
Olsen; Lustig, Lindelof, Helander, Bengtsson; Kulusevski, Ekdal, Olsson, Forsberg; Isak, Berg

Georgia possible starting lineup:
Loria; Kakabadze, Khocholava, Kashia, Tabidze; Kvekveskiri, Kankava; Shengelia, Okriashvili, Lobzhanidze; Kvilitaia


SM words green background

We say: Sweden 2-0 Georgia

With Georgia having put together a strong defensive record in 2020, this result is far from a foregone conclusion. Nevertheless, with Ibrahimovic back in Sweden's ranks, the home side should have enough quality in the final third to get over the line.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:curl


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AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic pictured on February 13, 2021
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