FIFA World Cup 2018: Semifinals!

2018-World-Cup

It is time for semifinals in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. In this post we take a look on the results of the quarterfinals, and predict the outcomes of the semifinals.

Tuesday July 10: France vs Belgium

The French team, “Les Bleus”,  has been a bit of an outsider in the talk before the World Cup, but now they have reached the semifinal after winning their group, and then eliminating Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the Round of 16, followed up by a 2-0 win in the quarterfinal against Uruguay. France has a very talented squad, one example being 19 year old Kylian Mbappé Lottin, who scored two goals in the round of 16. They can very well go all the way in this tournament, but to do so, they need to find a way to stop Belgium. Belgium won their group before England, and managed to turn 0-2 into a 3-2 win on stop time against Japan in the round of 16. In the quarterfinal, they outmaneuvered one of the beforehand favorites, Brazil, with superstar Neymar Jr, 2-1.

This semifinal is difficult, if not impossible to predict. Both teams have shown efficiency in their offense, however, some gaps persists in their defenses (France gave up three goals in the round of 16, Belgium two). Whatever team manages to combine their offense with a disciplined defensive game will win this game and advance to the 2018 FIFA World Cup final.

Wednesday July 11: Croatia – England

Croatia played a convincing game in the group stage, turning predictions to their favor, especially since they are in the half of the playoff tree that is considered to be “weaker”. However, they have struggled so far, winning two tight games (round of 16: Denmark, quarterfinal: Russia) after penalties. We do not think that is enough against England, who are getting better and better as the tournament progresses. England managed to get rid of their “penalty ghost” after winning a dirty game against Colombia in the round of 16. The shootout win made the “Lions” come out as a whole new team against Sweden in the quarterfinals, efficiently and relentlessly mowing down the blue and yellow defenses. The final scored was written 2-0.

The losing teams will face each other in the bronze game July 14, and the final is played Sunday July 15.

How Sweden DESTROYED the Swiss sportsyear 2018

Sweden

People often mix up Sweden and Switzerland. In 2018, there should be no question about what team is the dominant nation when it comes to important stuff, such as team sports. The two nations have faced each other in the Olympic Hockey, the Hockey World Championship and lately, the round of 16 in the FIFA World Cup. Sweden has won each game, leading to another gold medal in the World Championship, and an advancement to the quarter final of the FIFA World Cup.

Sweden vs Switzerland: Ice Hockey

Sweden has become a nightmare for Swiss ice hockey. Zürich is one of our favorite places to play the Hockey World Championship with golds both in 1987 and 1998. We have eliminated Switzerland numerous times, like in the 2006 Olympics in Torino where Switzerland managed to win their group, only to be eliminated in the quarterfinal. Sweden later won the Olympic gold that year. In the 2013 Hockey World Championship, Switzerland reached their first final ever, only to be defeated by Sweden. In 2018, history repeat itself, with a Swedish final win in the shootout in the final. Although we hope to see Switzerland go all the way some day, it won’t be against Team Sweden. Earlier this year, Sweden also beat Switzerland in the group stage of the Olympic games. However, both teams were eliminated by Team Germany in the playoffs.

Sweden vs Switzerland: Football

Before the round of 16 in the FIFA World Cup, Switzerland had only 2 losses in 25 games. In the group stage they managed to play a 1-1 tie against Brazil, finishing 2nd in their group. However, in the playoff game against Sweden, the Swiss attack was effectively neutralized. A disciplined Swedish defensive 4-4-2 lineup stood firm, as we have done so many times before. Emil Forsberg’s 1-0 in the beginning of the second half was enough for a victory and a place among the top eight teams in the world who will play the quarterfinals.

Although no official rivalry exists between our nations, Sweden has surely become a nightmare opponent for Switzerland when it comes to team sports. Read more about the difference between Sweden and Switzerland.

2018 Champions League: Round of 16

In February, the playoffs in the Champions League begin. In Sweden, we especially look forward to the matchup between Manchester United and Sevilla. Currently, there are two Swedish players in United: Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Victor Nilsson Lindelöf, however there are questions about the status of ‘Ibra’s’ knee. In this post you can read about the round of 16 matchups with game dates and predictions. As usual, the teams play each other twice. Goal difference followed by most goals scored away work as tiebreakers.

Round of 16 in the 2018 Champions League

First game (Second game, with reverse home / away teams):

February 13 (March 7):

Juventus – Tottenham

Comment: Interesting Italian – British match-up. Juventus tend to be strong in the Champions League so we place our bets on them. 1-0 at home, then 0-0 away for the Italians? Although, the question is if Italian football has recovered since the loss against Sweden in the World Cup qualifiers? 😉

Basel – Manchester City

Comment: Manchester City is described as one of England’s best league teams ever and should have no problem dismissing Basel.

February 14 (March 6):

Porto – Liverpool

Comment: Difficult to predict…

Real Madrid – Paris SG

Comment: Real Madrid lags behind in La Liga and will therefore wholeheartedly go for the Champions League this year. They will eliminate Neymar and the French.

February 20 (March 14):

Bayern Munich – Besiktas

Comment: Bayern advances to the quarter finals.

Chelsea – Barcelona

Comment: Great match up! But Spanish football is still a little hotter than Chelsea?

February 21 (March 13):

Sevilla – Manchester United

Comment: Nice draw for Mourinho, Ibrahimovic and Lindelöf. The question is if Zlatan’s knee holds up? Unless otherwise, we will gladly enjoy Victor Nilsson Lindelöf’s defensive battles.

Sjachtar – Rome

Comment: Roma!

So, our prediction is the following teams in the quarter finals:

Juventus
Porto / Liverpool
Real Madrid
Bayern Munich
Barcelona
Manchester United
Roma

From there, everything depends on the draws.

Sweden in the 2018 FIFA World Cup

2018-World-Cup

In this post you will find all groups plus Sweden’s schedule in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Sweden was drawn against Germany, Mexico and South Korea. The 2018 World Cup is played June 14 – July 15 in 12 Russian cities. It is the 21st men’s World Cup. In the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Germany won the final against Argentina.

Sweden’s matches in the 2018 World Cup

Date / (Swedish) Time | Teams | Location

June 18: 14.00 | Sweden – South Korea | Nizhny Novgorod

June 23: 20.00 | Germany – Sweden | Sochi

27th of June: 16.00 | Mexico – Sweden | Ekaterinburg

Groups in the 2018 World Cup 2018

32 teams fight for 16 places in the round of 16

Group A

1. Russia
2. Saudi Arabia
3. Egypt
4. Uruguay

Comment: Dream draw for the host nation who will advance from this group along with Uruguay.

Group B

1. Portugal
2. Spain
3. Morocco
4. Iran

Comment: Local rivals Spain and Portugal will fight for the group win. The match will be 15 June at 20:00. Morocco that did allowed a single goal against (!) In the qualifiers.

Group C

1. France
2. Australia
3. Peru
4. Denmark

Comment: Tough group. France should win. Denmark and Peru fight for second place. Australia might cause some troubles?

Group D

1. Argentina
2. Iceland
3. Croatia
4. Nigeria

Comment: The group of death. Leo Messi’s Argentina is favorites. Iceland can beat any team. Croatia is always dangerous, so is Nigeria.

Group E

1. Brazil
2. Switzerland
3. Costa Rica
4. Serbia

Comment: Brazil and Switzerland are favorites, but this is really no easy task for any of the teams.

Group F

1. Germany
2. Mexico
3. Sweden
4. South Korea

Comment: Germany is the favorite for the group win. Sweden’s key match will be against Mexico. Certainly, do we dismiss South Korea quite easily?

Group G

1. Belgium
2. Panama
3. Tunisia
4. England

Comment: England and Belgium should grab position 1 and 2 in group G.

Group H

1. Poland
2. Senegal
3. Colombia
4. Japan

Comment: Poland and Colombia are favorites. Both Senegal and Japan are able to cause trouble though. We remember (unfortunately) the eighth finale against Senegal 2002, in a World Cup that could have been a Swedish success.

Playoffs in the 2018 World Cup

Position one and two in each group above advances to the round of 16.

The round of 16 is played June 30 – July 3.

The quarterfinals will be played from 6 to 7 July.

The semi-finals are played from 10 to 11 July

The Bronze match will be played July 14th

The final will be played July 15 at the Luzjniki stadium, Moscow.

Nations League explained

Friendly football games are usually labelled as boring sleeping pills, with teams resting their best players, low number of spectators and general dullness. Before the European Championships 2020, that situation is about to change, with the new Nations League qualifiers.

Nations League explained

The idea behind Nations League is simple: The European teams are divided into four divisions, A-D, based on their ranking. In turn, every division is divided into four groups, hence there are a total of 16 groups. Each group winner will advance to the play offs for the UEFA 2020 Championships unless they managed to qualify to the tournament through their regular qualifier groups.

Example: In division B, group 2 consists of Sweden, Turkey and Russia. Sweden and Denmark managed to qualify to the Euro2020 in the regular qualifiers, while Russia didn’t. Hence, Russia will advance to the Nations League playoffs!

Most teams from division A, and many teams from division B will of course advance to the Euro2020. Hence, for teams in these groups that are struggling in the qualifiers, the Nations League might be even more important than the regular qualifiers since even a middle position in these groups might mean a spot in the European Championships! For division C and D, the competition is not as hard, but then many of the opponents will not reach the Euro2020 through the regular qualifiers, so a top position in the group will be necessary to advance through this format.

The Playoffs are scheduled for March 2020 and consists of two semifinals and one final for every division. Four final winners will advance to the Euro 2020.

Divisions and teams in Nations League

Division A: Germany, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, France, England, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Iceland, Croatia, The Netherlands.
Division B: Austria, Wales, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine, Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Turkey (Sweden plays in group 2 together with Russia and Turkey).
Division C: Hungary, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, Greece, Serbia, Albania, Norway, Montenegro, Israel, Bulgaria, Finland, Cyprus, Estonia, Lithuania.
Division D: Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Latvia, Faroe Islands, Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Liechtenstein, Malta, Andorra, Kosovo, San Marino, Gibraltar.

We look forward to an exciting year of football 2018 with the FIFA World Cup, Euro 2020 Qualifiers and Nations League!

Schedule, Nations League

Round 1: 6-8 September 2018
Round 2: 9-11 September 2018
Round 3: 11-13 October 2018
Round 4: 14-16 October 2018
Round 5: 15-17 November 2018
Round 6: 18-20 November 2018
Finals: 5-9 June 2019.
Playoff to the EURO2020: 26-31 March 2020

Which teams play in the Confederations Cup 2017 (and why?)

The year before the FIFA World Cup, the Confederations Cup is played in the host country. June 17 – July 2, 2017, the tournament is played in Russia. In this post we present the participating nations, as well with an explanation of why they are included in the Cup . The eight teams in the 2017 Confederations Cup is divided into two groups. The top two teams of each group will advance to the semifinal (28th and 29th of June). July 2nd, the final and bronze match will be played.

Confederations Cup 2017

Group A:

Russia
New Zealand
Portugal
Mexico

Group B:

Cameroon
Chile
Australia
Germany

The group stageis scheduled for 17-25 June.
The semifinals are played 28-29 June.
Final and Bronze match will be played July 2nd.

These teams participate in the Confederation Cup

Nation – Reason

Russia – They are the host country for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Germany – They won the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Cameroon – They won the African Championship 2017 (CAF Africa Cup).

Australia – They won the Asian Championships 2015 (AFC Asian Cup).

Portugal – They won the European championships in 2016 (EURO 2016).

Mexico – They won CONCACAF (North American and Central American Championships), 2015.

New Zealand – They won the Oceanic Championship (OFC) 2016.

Chile – They won the South American Championships (Copa America) 2015.

There you have the tournament in a nutshell! 🙂 We are looking forward to exciting football during the summer of 2017!

El Clásico 2016-2017 dates

El Clasico

The rival matchup between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in Spanish La Liga attracts attention every year, and 2016-2017 is no exception. It is a classic meeting between two of football’s giants, and the outcome is often a deciding factor for what team will win La Liga at the end of the season. In this post we present the dates for the El Clásico of the 2016-2017 season.

El Clásico 2016-2017

Saturday, 3 December 2016: FC Barcelona – Real Madrid @ Camp Nou

Sunday, 23 April 2017: Real Madrid – FC Barcelona @ Santiago Bernabeu Stadium

There you have them. Of course there might be additional meetings between the two rivals in the Spanish Cup as well as in Champions League.

In the 2015-2016 season, Barcelona outplayed Real Madrid 0-4 at Bernabeu after goals from Luis Suárez, Neymar and Andrés Iniesta. In the second El Clásico of the season, Real Madrid managed to get the 1-2 win at Camp Nou. Barcelona FC later won La Liga. Real Madrid’s season ended happily as well, with a Champions League triumph against local rivals Athlético.

Current standings in La Liga

At the moment of writing, Real Madrid is ahead in La Liga after 12 rounds. They are positioned at the top with 30 points (9-3-0) with Barcelona trailing at second place with 26 points (8-2-2). Real looks stronger than ever this season while Barcelona has had a tough start with two losses. A win on December 3 is a must in order for Barcelona to gain on their rivals. Usually we lift a warning finger for Athlético when it comes to winning La Liga as well, but they have had a slow start, with a 6-3-3- record and are positioned at fifth place with 21 points. The other day they lost 0-3 at home against local rivals Real Madrid. Real Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick.

We will update this post as more games are played. Until then, we look forward to following the 2016-2017 El Clásico!

Champions League 2016-2017: Schedule and fixtures

August will soon turn into September which means that the biggest Football leagues of Europe will start. One of them is the prestigious Champions League tournament. Last season Real Madrid defeated local rivals Atletico in the final and thus became the champions. This year we find Ronaldo and Real in Group F where they are drawn against Dortmund, Sporting Lissabon and Legia Warszawa. In this post you find the drawn groups and schedule for the group phase as well as dates for the play offs matches. The two best placed teams in each group advances to the playoffs.

Groups:

Group A:

Paris Saint-Germain
Arsenal
FC Basel
Ludogorets

Comment: PSG (without Zlatan Ibrahimovic who went to Manchester United) and Arsenal should be on top in this group.

Group B:

Benfica
Napoli
Dynamo Kiev
Besiktas

Comment: A tough group to predict, but chances are the Italian teams (Benfica, Napoli) will have a good chance to advance.

Group C:

Barcelona FC
Manchester City
Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Celtic

Comment: Barcelona and Manchester City are the two strongest teams of group C.

Group D:

Bayern Munich
Atlético Madrid
PSV Eindhoven
FC Rostov

Comment: Another group with two favourites: Bayern and 2016 finalist, Atletico (who actually met in the semifinals last season).

Group E:

CSKA Moskva
Bayer Leverkusen
Tottenham
Monaco

Comment: Group E is hard to predict. Maybe it is Tottenham’s turn to go far in the Champions League this year?

Group F:

Real Madrid
Dortmund
Sporting Lissabon
Legia Warszawa

Comment: 2016 Champions League winners Real Madrid will win this group. But who do they take with them to the play offs?

Group G:

Leicester City
Porto
Club Brügge
FC Copenhagen

Comment: An interesting group. It will be interesting to see how the 2016 Premier League winner Leicester will fare against European competition. In Sweden we hope that the only Scandinavian team (Copenhagen) will have some success in the tournament.

Group H:

Juventus
Sevilla
Lyon
Dinamo Zagreb

Comment: “The old lady” Juventus should be able to advance from group H. Maybe together with Spanish Sevilla.

Schedule, Champions League 2016-2017

Group stage:

13–14 September: match 1.
27–28 September: match 2.
18–19 October: match 3.
1–2 November: match 4.
22–23 November: match 5.
6–7 December: match 6.

Play offs:

14–15 February: Round of 16, match 1.
7–8 March: Round of 16, match 2.

11–12 April: Quarter final, match 1.
18–19 April: Quarter final, match 2.

2–3 May: Semi final, match 1.
9–10 May: Semi final, match 2.

3 june: Final in Cardiff.

Portugal won Euro 2016

Portugal

The final of the European Football Championship in 2016 was played between the host nation France and Portugal. Portugal defeated Wales in the semi-finals while France knocked out reigning world champions Germany. France was slightly favorites for the win, thanks to the strong game against the Germans.

Cristiano Ronaldo injured

Expectations were high on Portugal’s big star, Cristiano Ronaldo. Already after approximately 20 minutes played, however, he got hit by a hard tackle to the knee. Ronaldo tried to play on, but had to leave the game, and the setback was a fact. If France were favorites before the game, they were even bigger favorites now. Portugal could not possibly  win the European Championship without their big star!

A tight game over 90 minutes

The game was fairly even. Both teams were disciplined in their defenses and quick in their passes France might have a certain advantage, but had difficulties to create to any clear scoring chances. The best chance they had was a shot that hit the inside of the post just before full-time. Had the ball been a few centimeters to the right, France had been the European champion today. That was not the case though.

Éder scored the deciding goal

The match went into extra time. The first quarter of was goalless. Five minutes into the second quarter Portugal’s substitute Éder got the ball outside the French penalty box. He shot a low right screw hard enough to find the net behind France’s goalkeeper. 1-0 Portugal, which was the end result: Portugal was the European Champions! A redemptive victory for a nation that used to have a golden generation that failed to go all the way in the major championships.

We summarize: Euro 2016

The European Championships 2016 has not offered the most beautiful gameplay we have seen: in fact, Portugal only won a single match after 90 minutes of play. However, there has been a championship where we have enjoyed smaller nations overachieving. Especially Iceland’s success when they reached the quarter-finals by knocking out England but also Wales advancement to the semifinal. Of course we Swedes are not satisfied with our national team not scoring a single goal (besides the own goal against Ireland) in the three group matches, but at the same time, we look forward to what the new generation of internationals can cause in qualifying for the World Cup in 2018 where we set against nations like the Netherlands and France. Before that, however, a football tournament is played during the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil. The Football summer of 2016 is far from over!

Euro 2016: semifinals

Soon, it is time to decide the winner of the European Football Championship in 2016. Four teams are still participating in the tournament though, and they will be reduced to two that will play in the final at Stade de France in Paris.

Wednesday, July 6: Portugal – Wales

Portugal has not won a match in the European Championships at full-time. The only game they have won by a deciding goal was the round of 16 against Croatia, through a late goal in the second overtime half. In the quarterfinal they got the worst possible start against Poland when the Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski scored 1-0 early. Portugal managed to score the equalizer though and the match went to penalties, where Ronaldo and his teammates managed to win. In the semifinal of the European Championship, Portugal will face Wales who eliminated Belgium with a 3-1 victory. Unexpectedly, according to many, but we think that Belgium has been the tournament’s most overrated team with a lot of individual talent but where it appeared early that they will not get the full effect of their squad. The question is if Wales can overcome the Portuguese defenses in the same way?

Thursday, July 7th: Germany – France

Germany played a defensive battle against Italy, owning much of the ball possession. Many of us thought that the game was decided when Mesut Ozil threw himself forward and put 1-0 to the Germans in the second half. However, penalties would be required even in this game. Italy got the 1-1 goal on a penalty shot. The penalty was preceded by a hand situation in the German defense area that looked a little funny. Looking at the situation again we see that the defender Jerome Boateng was in a struggle with an Italian attacker that fell. Then, Boateng raises his arms in the air to show that he had not done something against the rules, after which the ball hits one arm. During the shootout, many of the players missed. Finally, Germany could move on to the semifinals. There, the host nation France awaits after putting an end to Iceland’s success story in the 2016 European Championships. The French owned the game from start to finish and had a comfortable 4-0 lead after the first half. The match eventually ended 5-2 and we are impressed by Iceland’s efforts in the qualifiers, group stage and playoffs. Coach Lars Lagerbäck has managed to get the maximum out of his men and was hailed by the people’s cheers and one last giant volcano when they landed home on the island.

Who will win the semi-final then? We predict 2-1 Germany!