Sweden v Republic of Ireland - World Cup Qualification preview and team news
The Republic of Ireland face a critical test in their bid to qualify for World Cup 2014 as they line up against Sweden, currently a place and point above them in second place.
With Germany set to storm away with the group, the onus is on Giovanni Trapattoni’s men to avoid defeat in the first competitive match to be played in the national stadium in Stockholm if they are to retain serious hopes of qualification.
The veteran Italian has stuck to his tradition of naming his starting XI almost 24 hours before kick-off and has sprung a couple of surprises.
David Forde replaces the out-of-favour Kieran Westwood in goal for his first competitive international start while Marc Wilson, who has been out injured at Stoke City since late September coming straight back into proceedings. John O’Shea has been passed fit to play while Shane Long has also shaken off a knock to partner record goalscorer Robbie Keane up front.
However, the big surprise has come in midfield. With Aiden McGeady injured and Darron Gibson still ruling himself unavailable for selection after his limited role in the side at Euro 2012, Trapattoni has chosen not to choose the in-form and attack-minded James McCarthy as Glenn Whelan’s midfield partner. Instead, the role goes to 29-year-old Leeds player Paul Green, a common selection of Trapattoni but one that has been savagely criticised by both the Irish press and the supporters.
McGeady’s injury sees Robbie Brady come in, although the Hull winger may be replaced by Andy Keogh if his performances in training are not deemed worthy enough to start by the manager.
For the Swedes, the dangerman is undoubtedly Zlatan Ibrahimovic who christened the opening of the Friends Arena in November with his astonishing four-goal haul against England.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Sweden vs Republic of Ireland