Match Analysis: Sweden vs. France

Match Analysis
Carlo Alessandro Valladares

Author: Carlo Alessandro Valladares

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It was set to be a draw, but then Hugo Lloris made a poor pass upfield and Ola Toivonen took advantage of the out of position keeper and scored an injury time winner for Sweden.

2-1 read the final score for Friday’s Group A EuropeanWorld Cup Qualifier.

It was quite the surprising ending to what was a creative yet tactically slow match. Regardless of the entertainment value, Lloris’ error cost his side the game, there is no doubt about it. Toivonen’s goal was scored in the 93rd minute. France was less than 30 seconds away from a 1-1 draw. These things happen; it’s football, but France manager Didier Deschamps should be more concerned with his side’s poor finishing in the second-half than his keeper’s ball-playing blunder.

Honestly, Les Bleus should have put the game away when they had the chances in the second-half. But Sweden, playing at home at the Friends Arena in Solna, were quite organised in defence on the night, and often looked for long balls in attack as they do not trust their possession play. Well, maybe they do, but it seems like they didn’t want France to hit them in transition through consistently poor ball management.

As it happened, the first half finished with Olivier Giroud and Jimmy Durmaz offering superb goals that lit up social media (especially Giroud’s). The second stretch, however, saw France begin to dominate a Swedish side that was struggling to keep up with France’s power and pace. Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba, and Blaise Matuidi all missed some excellent chances to put the match away and ultimately left room for Hugo’s error to decide the match.

Read on for the tactics of both sides.

First-half

France is a very balanced team with players that are good in many different 1v1 scenarios. The have technical ability, power, pace, and most of their players perform at some of the most tactically advanced clubs around.

The hosts, although not at the same level, are no pushovers. Janne Andersson’s side is quite organised in a low-block, enjoy playing on the counter, and don’t like giving up to many attack to defence transitions.

Sweden Goes Long

Much of the first-half saw Victor Lindelof and Mikael Lustig huff long balls to their forwards.

France’s mid-block while backward passes trigger pressing

France’s 4-2-3-1 is quite fluid in many different areas and phases of play. Deschamps’ side enjoys deploying a patient mid-block, not pressing too early on, and picking up their aggressiveness as the players pick up on the opposition’s build-up flow.

In the video below, we see how France man-marks in a midblock and then uses backward passes as triggers to push up and press with intensity.

 France’s Possession Phases

Les Bleus opted to attack Sweden’s left flank and they did it often. France’s right attacking flank often shift their possession toward that area with Dimitri Payet cutting centrally into the half-space and Pogba joining in a more advanced position.

The video below illustrates France’s possession game further.

Second-half

France’s Second-half Missed Opportunities

As mentioned above, France missed loads of opportunities to kill the game. Deschamps can’t’ be happy with how the game ended, but he surely needs his best players like Griezmann and Pogba to execute.

 Swedish defensive adjustments for the final stages of the match

As the match entered its final minutes, Sweden became very negative. They played compact and narrow in the central axis and moved to the wide areas as a unit by pressing and cutting out all central breaking passing lanes.

Conclusion

It’s not the end of the world for Deschamps and France, they’re still tied for first with Sweden with 13 points in World Cup Qualification Group A, but the Swedes are ahead on goal differential. The standings aside, Hugo Lloris needs to bounce back and France needs to capitalize on their excellent possession phases and creation. They have too much quality in every position to have only scored one goal on the night.

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