Sweden find themselves in a tough four way battle at the top of the group at the moment, and they know that they cannot afford to slip up at home to a below average Belarus side.
Friends Arena, Stockholm, Sweden
Key Stat: 2- the number of teams that will advance out of the group. One of them will go straight to Russia, while the other will be forced into a playoff. Sweden find themselves in a battle with the Netherlands and France for those spots, and they are at risk for missing a third consecutive World Cup.
Expert Verdict: Sweden are in a must-win situation in this match. Every match in this group against the smaller sides is going to be a must-win for them, France, and the Netherlands if they are to advance from this group of heavy hitters. Luckily for them, Belorussian football is at a low point and they are just not very complete at the moment. Sweden have a lot of very good players all around the pitch, and if they can find the right combination, they can become a very dangerous proposition.
Janne Andersson, it must be said, will not have Zlatan available to him. He has retired from the Swedish side after carrying them for many years.
The hope of the past generation was also Zlatan, but the hope of the new generation of Swedes is Emil Forsberg. The 25 year old Red Bull Leipzig man can play in just about any attacking position, and he has found his best ever form this season in the Bundesliga. He's only scored three goals in 24 caps for Sweden, but he did score in their last outing against the French. Forsberg is very pacy, a great dribbler, and he can pop up just about anywhere. That can be very dangerous for this Belarus side to deal with.
Sweden have one loss, two wins, and one draw in this very tough group so far. They lost 2-1 in France last time out.
Defenders:Krafth, Granqvist, Lindelof, Augustinsson
Midfielders:Ekdal, Johansson, Durmaz, Forsberg
Alyaksandr Khatskevich will be without midfielder Alexsandr Hleb after he was red carded in the closing moments of the match against Bulgaria.
Vitali Rodionov, a striker that is with perennial strong BATE Borisov in the Belorussian league, is the leading scorer in this current squad with ten goals. At the age of 33, they continue to call him up due to the fact that they still haven't been able to replace him. At BATE, he's a club legend of sorts, having scored over 100 goals in over 250 appearances. His last international goal was over three years ago, so he's definitely due and needed to score.
Belarus have two losses and two draws in their four matches to this point. They gained an impressive point in their opener against France, but they've petered out a little. They lost 1-0 in Bulgaria last time out.
Defenders:Politevech, Martynovich, Filipenko, Polykarov
Midfielders:Kendysh, Gordejchuk, Maevskiy, Korzun, Nekhajchik
There have been just three meetings between these two sides, and Sweden have won all three. Here's how they finished:
Jun 2, 2010: Belarus 0-1 Sweden (Friendly)
Aug 20, 1997: Belarus 1-2 Sweden (World Cup Qualifiers)
Jun 1, 1996: Sweden 5-1 Belarus (World Cup Qualifiers)
Sweden are a much better team, and they know they must gain the points against the smaller teams if they are to advance. They will do just that here.
Bet365 have Sweden at 1/2 to win, a draw at 11/4, and a Belarus win at 13/2.
Both teams to score is at 6/5 for yes and 8/13 for no.
A 1-0 win for Sweden at full time would bring you just 9/1 odds if correct.
Reason: The bookmakers are hugely in Sweden's corner here as they know that the Swedes will be pressing for a spot in the playoffs at the very least. They also know that they are strong at home and have done well against Belarus in the past, so that factors in to the odds here.