After helping Sweden finish second in Group A in UEFA 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying last week, Seattle Sounders midfielder Gustav Svensson and the Blågult will face Italy in a home-and-home playoff with a World Cup berth on the line. Svensson, 30, has eight caps and has been called into the national team in each of the last two windows.
Sweden drew the Azzurri in a draw from Zurich, Switzerland, on Tuesday. Sweden will host the first leg on Friday, Nov. 10, at 10:45 a.m. PT before traveling to Italy for the return leg on Monday, Nov. 13, at 10:45 a.m. PT.
There were nine groups of six in the first round of UEFA World Cup Qualifying. The teams played 10 matches in a round-robin, home-and-home format with the winners of each of the nine groups automatically qualifying for Russia 2018. The top eight second-place finishers entered the draw on Tuesday, while the second-place team with the fewest points, Slovakia, was eliminated.
The four highest-ranked countries in the latest FIFA World Rankings — Switzerland, Italy, Croatia and Denmark — were seeded in one pot with the lowest four — Sweden, Greece, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland — in the other.