Spain will welcome Sweden to Sevilla on Sunday evening knowing that they only need to avoid defeat in order to claim first spot in Group B and secure qualification for next year’s World Cup.
La Roja will enter the contest off the back of a 1-0 win over Greece on Thursday, while Sweden, who are one point behind their opponents here, were on the end of a shock 2-0 loss in Georgia.
Spain did not play any World Cup qualifiers last month due to their involvement in the UEFA Nations League, where they beat Italy 2-1 in the semi-finals before suffering a 2-1 loss to France in the final.
La Roja were back in Group B action on Thursday, though, and managed to move above Sweden to the top of the section courtesy of a 1-0 win over a resolute Greece, with Pablo Sarabia’s first-half penalty proving to be the difference between the two sides in Athens.
Sweden’s surprise 2-0 loss to Georgia had opened the door for Spain to move to the summit, and Luis Enrique’s side are one point clear at the top of the section heading into Sunday’s clash.
As a result, a point will be enough to secure an automatic spot at next year’s World Cup, leaving Sweden facing the playoffs, but La Roja did suffer a 2-1 loss when the two teams met in the reverse match in September.
Spain have disappointed in the World Cup since winning the competition in 2010, being eliminated in the group stages in 2014 before only reaching the round of 16 in 2018; they did perform much better at this summer’s European Championship, though, reaching the semi-finals of the tournament.
Sweden, as mentioned, saw their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup suffer a serious blow when they lost 2-0 in Georgia on Thursday, with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia netting twice for the home side.
As it stands, Janne Andersson’s side are facing a playoff to qualify for next year’s tournament, but a victory in Spain on Sunday would see them finish at the top of the section.
The Blue and Yellows have won five and lost two of their seven Group B fixtures to collect 15 points, which has left them second, comfortably clear of third-placed Greece and guaranteed at least a playoff spot regardless of what happens this weekend.
Sweden impressed during the 2018 World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals of the competition before suffering a 2-0 loss to England, who netted through Harry Maguire and Dele Alli.
Andersson’s team made the round of 16 at this summer’s European Championship, meanwhile, progressing through the section before suffering a 2-1 loss to Ukraine after extra-time.
Spain World Cup Qualifying – Europe form:
Spain form (all competitions):
Sweden World Cup Qualifying – Europe form:
Sweden form (all competitions):
We say: Spain 2-1 Sweden
Sweden must go after Spain, and the visitors certainly have the players capable of pulling off a huge win on Sunday. La Roja will be feeling good about themselves after the victory over Greece, though, and we are backing Enrique’s side to round off their World Cup campaign in the perfect fashion.