NEWS
Tuesday October 17 2017
Italy vs Sweden: The precedents

Italy and Sweden will meet for the 23rd and 24th time in the World Cup play-off, with the Azzurri unbeaten since 1998.

Today’s draw saw Giampiero Ventura’s side paired with the Scandinavian nation for next month’s play-off, with the first leg to be played in Stockholm.

These two nations have met on 22 previous occasions, with Italy holding the advantage with 10 wins to the Swedes’ six, with six draws.

The first ever meeting was on November 16, 1924 with Mario Magnozzi scoring twice for the Azzurri in a 2-2 draw at the Stadio Viale Lombardia in Milan.

Sweden then held the upper hand for a spell, most notably in knocking the Italians out of the 1950 World Cup with a 3-2 win in Sao Paulo.

In recent years however it’s the Azzurri who have fared better, winning 1-0 in a group stage meeting at Euro 2016 last year.

Italy are unbeaten against Sweden since a friendly in June 1998, and haven’t lost a competitive match to the Scandinavian nation since the 1987 European Championship qualifiers.

However, there is some contentious recent history between the two sides, following their pairing in the group stage at Euro 2004.

The direct clash ended 1-1, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic rescuing a point for Sweden with a spectacular late backheel volley after Antonio Cassano's opener.

That meant Italy had to win their final game against Bulgaria, and hope that the Swedes didn’t draw 2-2 with Denmark - a result which would send both sides through.

“Machiavelli might have been Italian and Italians might like to think in a Machiavellian way, but it would not be possible to play for a 2-2 draw against Denmark,” Sweden Coach Lars Lagerback said before the match.

“I don't think it will end 2-2 – that is a very unusual result.”

Trapattoni’s side eventually got the job done against Bulgaria thanks to a last minute Cassano goal, but an 89th-minute Mattias Jonson had levelled the scores over in Porto. The score? 2-2.