Sweden vs. Ireland, 2014 World Cup qualifying: Preview and TV schedule

Scott Heavey

With Ireland only a point behind Sweden in their World Cup qualification group, Giovanni Trapattoni's side will look to put the brakes on the free-scoring Swedes on Friday.

Sweden sit second in their group, amassing seven points from their opening three games. With table toppers Germany set to coast to qualification in an otherwise relatively innocuous looking-group, Sweden would really put themselves in a commanding position with a win. However, with Ireland only a point in arrears, if they can cause an upset on Friday night then things will look less secure at the top.

Things have already started to get heated (or not, as the case may be) with the freezing cold temperatures expected at the Friends Arena. The roof at the ground is likely to be closed after protests from Sweden boss Erik Hamren, while Ireland's contrarian coach Giovanni Trapattoni expressed a preference for it to be left open. With temperatures dipping as deep as 14 fahrenheit, Fifa have probably made the right choice.

There's little doubt about who takes centre stage in the Sweden team, with Zlatan Ibrahimović spearheading an offensively-exciting side which has incredibly scored in every single competitive game they've played since October 2009. Scoring 14 times in their last five games in all competitions, the defensively sturdy Ireland will have to work even harder than usual to keep them at bay.

They'll be without Johan Elmander through injury, with BSC Young Boys striker Alexander Gerndt likely to partner Zlatan in attack. Blackburn Rovers' Martin Olsson has also withdrawn. For Ireland, there is a doubt over the fitness of Hull City winger Robbie Brady and Stoke City striker Jon Walters, who has limped out of training with a knock.

Ireland's form recently has been sketchy at best, and it's nigh-on impossible to predict how good they'll be on the night. They haven't won two competitive games consecutively since 2011, though bounced back from a 6-1 trouncing by Germany with a 4-1 win over the Faroe Islands four days later in their last couple of World Cup qualifiers.

Match Date/Time: Friday 22nd March 2013 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Friends Arena, Solna, Sweden

TV: RTE 2 (Ireland) Gol TV USA (U.S.)

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