Sports Mole previews Thursday’s World Cup qualifier – the European match between Georgia and Sweden, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sweden will aim to consolidate its position at the top of the rankings in WC 2022 Qualifying group B when they take on Georgia on Thursday night.
The Scandinavian power packs marched to a 2-0 success over Greece last time, while their hosts only play for pride after an early elimination.
Although they won against Kosovo by two goals to one on match day seven, it is far too late for Georgia to save anything other than a sense of pride, with the win representing their first in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers after a troubled campaign. .
Tornike Okriashvili and Zuriko Davitashvili both netted each side of Vedat Muriqis penalty for giving Georgia all three points in that basement battle, but that win will prove unimportant for Willy Sagnols men by and large.
This week’s hosts had suffered five losses out of six in Group B before lowering Kosovo and occupying a fourth place in the group as a result – as well as boasting four points and four goals at this stage – and the qualification may not end soon enough for the world 93rd ranked nation.
Sagnol’s team will now simply seek the consolation prize not to end dead in the group, with Kosovo – who are only behind on goal difference – to take on Greece this weekend, but the hosts have suffered three losses from three at home in the World Cup qualifiers so so far.
Still manages to keep away the threat from Spain, Sweden’s World Cup 2022 fate is firmly in their own hands, with Janne Anderssons side aims to qualify for its second World Cup on bounces as a group winner after a solid campaign.
A surprising 2-1 defeat against Greece is the only stain on the notebook for Sweden, which has won in its five other qualifying meetings and taken revenge John Van ‘t Schips page last time out, which Emil Forsberg and Alexander Isaac struck in a comfortable 2-0 success.
Andersson’s team currently has a two-point lead over Spain in second place at the summit and can confirm their first place if La Roja would get an overwhelming result against Greece this week, but a win for both sides would make Sunday’s top-of-the-table clashed a decisive battle.
Quite worryingly, Sweden has suffered five losses from its last six away matches in all tournaments – even though Portugal and France have been among their opponents during the miserable suite – and one Viktor Claesson the winner drove them to a 1-0 success over Georgia as early as March.
Georgia World Cup Qualifier – European Form:
Georgia form (all competitions):
Sweden World Cup qualifier – European form:
Sweden form (all competitions):
Georgia’s left back Guram Giorbelidze took his second warning in qualifying against Kosovo and will serve a suspension here, while Lasha Dvali is also prohibited for the same reason.
Nineteen years old Irakli Azarovi should be left-back with Giorbelidze suspended, while Dvali’s place in the heart of the defense can be filled by FC Copenhagen Davit Khocholava.
Sagnol should otherwise keep the changes to a minimum after his team’s first win, with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur linked Khvicha Kvaratskhelia again begins to attack.
At the same time Sweden attackers Ken Sema has been forced to withdraw from the squad due to injury, and Albin Ekdal will be excluded from this clash due to an accumulation of bookings.
Bologna Mattias Svanberg is the most likely candidate to fill in next to Kristoffer Olsson, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic has made the cut but will certainly not start twice in quick succession.
Andersson will certainly be tempted to keep some of his greats in reserve ahead of the meeting with Spain, with Isak and Victor Lindelöf even among those who can be spared.
Georgia’s possible starting lineup:
Loria; Kakabadze, Khocholava, Kashia; Lobjanidze, Gvilia, Kvekveskiri, Azarovi; Tsitaishvili, Okriashvili, Kvaratskhelia
Sweden’s possible starting line-up:
Olsen; Krafth, Nilsson, Milosevic, Augustinsson; Kulusevski, K. Olsson, Svanberg, Forsberg; Quaison, Gyokeres
We say: Georgia 0-2 Sweden
With it unlikely that Sweden will mention a full force XI when Andersson sees the critical match with Spain, Georgia can anticipate an opportunity to win back-to-back here.
However, Sagnol’s side has been swept aside at home so far, and Sweden has the necessary squad depth to march to a comfortable victory and retain its place at the summit.