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2018 World Cup team preview: Sweden

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Getting to know Sweden: Blagult (The Blue-Yellow) haven’t been to the World Cup since the 2006 in Germany, where they reached the round of 16 and were eliminated by the host nation, while qualifying for the last five European Championships (one knockout appearance – 2004).

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Janne Andersson has assembled and deployed a formidable defensive unit which conceded just nine goals in 12 qualifiers, including their defeat of Italy in the qualification playoffs in November. On the other end of the field, the Swedes netted 26 times, besting everyone in Group A, including the eventual group winners, France, whom they beat 2-1 at home and lost to 2-1 away. Andreas Granqvist, who’ll partner Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof in the center of defense, is the captain.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 


What group are they in? Group F, with the defending World Cup winners, Germany; CONCACAF’s best, Mexico; and arguably Asia’s best, South Korea. Perhaps (one of) this year’s group(s) of death, it’ll be an uphill battle for 270 minutes to scrape and claw away anything and everything they can get.

Game schedule – Group F – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here

Monday, June 18: Sweden vs. South Korea, Nizhny Novgorod, 8 a.m. ET
Saturday, June 23: Germany vs. Sweden, Sochi, 2 p.m. ET
Wednesday, June 27: Mexico vs. Sweden, Yekaterinburg, 10 a.m. ET


Projected lineup (4-4-2) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

—– Olsen —–

— Lustig — Lindelof — Gronqvist —Augustinsson —

— Claesson — Ekdal — Larsson —  Forsberg —

—— Berg —— Toivonen ——


Star player: Emil Forsberg – The 26-year-old winger is coming off an injury-plagued season (nearly two months missed due to core muscle injury), and his least productive one in his three years, for sixth-place Bundesliga finishers RB Leipzig. Forsberg racked up more than 50 goals in under 200 games while playing six seasons in Sweden before making the move to Germany, where he’s made more than 30 appearances each of the last three seasons (goal tallies of eight, eight and five). He’ll play on the left and look to cut inside, providing left back Ludwig Augustinsson all the space in the world on the overlap.

(Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)

Manager: Janne Andersson – The 55-year-old spent more than 15 years playing in Sweden and has been managing in his homeland ever since, rising to the national team job following EURO 2016.


Secret weapon: Viktor Claesson – The 26-year-old winger, who’ll line up opposite Forsberg, has starred for the last year and a half at Krasnodar in Russia, where he bagged a dozen goals this season, including two in the Europa League and 10 in league play. Both Claesson and Forsberg will attack wide and provide width with an eye toward funneling everything to Ola Toivonen and Marcus Berg.


Prediction: The clearest path to finishing second and advancing to the knockout rounds is as follows: beat South Korea, draw Mexico, take a narrow-margin defeat against Germany, and hope Mexico get hammered by the defending world champions, opening the door for a goal-differential decision. In short, it’s a long shot, but not wholly unrealistic.

Which Premier League players will be at World Cup?

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There are 107 players from the Premier League who are going to the 2018 World Cup.

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Manchester City have more players going to the tournament (16) than any other club in the world, while the English national team are the only country in the entire competition to have 100 percent of their players from their domestic league.

Belgium have an incredible 11 of their 23-man squad who play in the Premier League, while Senegal and Brazil have six players each from the PL and Argentina, Denmark and France boast five players each in their final rosters.

Below is a breakdown of the PL players heading to Russia this summer, with players from recently relegated teams in 2017/18 and teams coming up to the PL in 2018/19 included.

Here’s a country-by-country breakdown.


Argentina
Manuel Lanzini (West Ham United)
Marcos Rojo (Manchester United)
Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City)
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Willy Caballero (Chelsea)


Australia
Mat Ryan (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield Town)


Belgium
Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea)
Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur)
Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur)
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United)
Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City)
Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Nacer Chadli (West Bromwich Albion)


Brazil
Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Danilo (Manchester City)
Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Willian (Chelsea)
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
Ederson (Manchester City)


Colombia
David Opsina (Arsenal)
Jose Izquierdo (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham Hotspur)


Croatia
Dejan Lovren (Liverpool)


Denmark
Kasper Schmeichel (Leicester City)
Andreas Christensen (Chelsea)
Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Mathias Jorgensen (Huddersfield Town)
Jonas Lossl (Huddersfield Town)


England
Jack Butland (Stoke City)
Jordan Pickford (Everton)
Nick Pope (Burnley)
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur)
Kyle Walker (Manchester City)
Gary Cahill (Chelsea)
Phil Jones (Manchester United)
John Stones (Manchester City)
Harry Maguire (Leicester City)
Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur)
Ashley Young (Manchester United)
Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur)
Fabian Delph (Manchester City)
Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea, on loan at Crystal Palace)
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool)
Jesse Lingard (Manchester United)
Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
Danny Welbeck (Arsenal)
Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)


Egypt
Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Mohamed Elneny (Arsenal)


France
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur)
Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
Olivier Giroud (Chelsea)
N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City)


Germany
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City)


Iceland
Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton)
Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley)


Japan
Maya Yoshida (Southampton)
Shinji Kagawa (Leicester City)


Korea Republic
Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hotspur)
Ki Sung-Yueng (Swansea City)


Mexico
Javier Hernandez (Mexico)


Morocco
Roman Saiss (Wolverhampton Wanderers)


Nigeria
Wifried Ndidi (Leicester City)
Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)
Victor Moses (Chelsea)
Alex Iwobi (Arsenal)


Peru
Andre Carrillo (Watford)


Poland
Jan Bednarek (Southampton)
Grzegorz Krychowiak (West Brom, on loan from PSG)
Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City)


Portugal
Bernardo Silva (Manchester City)
Joao Mario (West Ham United, on loan from Inter Milan)
Cedric Soares (Southampton)
Adrien Silva (Leicester City)


Serbia
Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace)
Nemanja Matic (Manchester United)
Dusan Tadic (Southampton)
Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United, on loan at Fulham)


Senegal
Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Idrissa Gueye (Everton)
Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham United)
Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City)
Alfred N'Diaye (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Badou Ndiaye (Stoke City)


Spain
David De Gea (Manchester United)
Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Nacho Monreal (Arsenal)
David Silva (Manchester City)


Sweden
Victor Lindelof (Manchester United)
Martin Olsson (Swansea City)
Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Swansea City)


Switzerland
Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)
Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City)


Tunisia
Yohan Benalouane (Leicester City)


Crystal Palace 2-3 Manchester United: Red Devils roar back

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  • Townsend’s deflected shot opens scoring
  • Quick restart fools United for 2-0
  • Smalling heads in Valencia cross
  • Lukaku levels late
  • Matic wins it in stoppage

Nemanja Matic, Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling scored as Manchester United made amends for a woeful start with a 3-2 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Monday.

The win puts United back ahead of Liverpool and into second place in the Premier League. The Red Devils are a full nine points clear of fifth place Chelsea.

Andros Townsend and Patrick Van Aanholt opened up a 2- 0 lead for Palace, who remains in the drop zone with 27 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Nemanja Matic was particularly active in the first five minutes, and showed he’d be a key factor in helping to shut down Palace’s twin towers of Alexander Sorloth and Christian Benteke.

James Tomkins tried an overhead kick off a scrum for Palace’s first real chance, while Wayne Hennessey leapt high to defy an Alexis Sanchez header at the other end.

Palace went ahead in the 11th minute, as Benteke was given time and space by Chris Smalling to find Townsend. The English winger’s shot deflected wildly off Victor Lindelof‘s head and beat De Gea. 1-0.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Van Aanholt’s seen his share of relegation scraps, and zipped onto a quick restart to dribble beyond a protesting Smalling and belt a shot past De Gea. 2-0, 48′.

Smalling got one back when Tomkins and the rest of Palace left him alone at the back post to nod Antonio Valencia‘s cross past Hennessey.

United was all over Palace for the remainder of the match, and Matic thought he deserved a penalty for an incident around the time of his hitting the post.

Palace conceded the equalizer in a painful way, as Alexis Sanchez’s deflected shot fell off the cross bar to Lukaku, who waited for Van Aanholt’s block attempt before pounding it home with his left peg.

Benteke and Sorloth each came for the lead in the 77th minute, with De Gea making an outstanding save on the former.

Matic’s winner, early in stoppage, was reminiscent of his goal for Chelsea against Spurs last season, as he belted a rebound from well outside the 18.

Van Gaal: Man United more interested in money than titles

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Louis Van Gaal still has some hard feelings from his time at Old Trafford.

In an interview with SportBild, the Dutchman who managed Manchester United from 2014-2016 said that the Red Devils are more interested in the commercial side of the game than trophies, compared to his time at Bayern Munich.

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“Manchester United, which I last coached, is a commercial club,” Van Gaal said. “Quite different than Bayern. The bosses are (Karl-Heinz) Rummenigge and (Uli) Hoeneß, former players who know what they are talking about. For them football is the most important thing, not the money as in the meantime at United.”

It’s a bit of a low blow, but it’s fair to say that Man United hasn’t truly challenged for the Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, though the club did win the UEFA Europa League as well as a League Cup and FA Cup in the last four years.

At the same time, Man United’s revenues have gone through the roof. The club is considered by Deloitte to be the richest soccer team in the world, with revenues in excess of around $824 million last year. And although it didn’t make many signings last summer, the club spent lavishly to sign Nemanja Matic, Victor Lindelof and Romelu Lukaku, with plenty of money to sign Alexis Sanchez in January.

LIVE, UCL – Sevilla vs. Man United, Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Roma

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Jose Mourinho has created a splash this morning by benching Paul Pogba despite utilizing a 3-man central midfield formation as Manchester United heads to Spain to take on Sevilla in their Champions League Round of 16 first leg meeting.

Pogba was left out of Saturday’s win over Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup due to illness, but having made the trip to Sevilla with the matchday squad, it seems his omission is instead due to tactical reasons. 21-year-old academy product Scott McTominay starts in Pogba’s place alongside Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera, with the Frenchman on the bench among the substitutes.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

The decision is surprising given Manchester United’s 16-point deficit in the Premier League table as they trail runaway favorites Manchester City, leaving the Champions League as the best competition remaining that the Red Devils have a shot to win.

Up front for Manchester United, Alexis Sanchez carries the creative load along with Juan Mata, with both supporting Romelu Lukaku at the striker position. Meanwhile, Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof continue to work as the central defensive partnership, while Antonio Valencia captains the side as full-back, mirrored by Ashley Young on the other edge.

In the other matchup, Roma heads to the Ukraine to take on Shakhtar Donetsk, who finished 2nd in Group F three points behind Manchester City. The Ukranian side has only just returned from its winter break, with just a single game played since December 10th.

Roma, meanwhile, has pulled itself out of a rut just in time for the return of Champions League play, with three straight Serie A wins coming on the heels of a five-match winless run. They have scored eight goals over those three wins, with a pair of road clean sheets among the group. 20-year-old Turkish winger Cengiz Under is on fire over the win streak, scoring four goals over that span.


Today’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 schedule

Sevilla vs. Manchester United – 2:45 p.m. ET
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Roma – 2:45 p.m. ET