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Game Time Thread: Italy vs. Sweden

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Please Ventura, don’t screw this up.

Albania v Italy - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

1The day Italy fans have been waiting for is finally here as the Italian team (and this incredibly excited writer!!!) heads to Friends Arena in Stockholm for the first leg of their World Cup Qualifying Playoffs.

To quickly remind you, both teams are in this position because they were unable to secure top spot in their group, but were able to finish second place. Italy finished 5 points behind Spain, while Sweden finished 4 points behind France.

The last time these two played was last June in the Euro Cup group stage. Italy was able to secure a late victory thanks to an Eder goal. I wonder if that went into his decision to bring him along this time around.

What didn’t make the big headlines like I thought it should was Jorginho’s inclusion in the squad. Giampiero Ventura finally did what was obvious to most observers and brought him in. I sincerely hope he gets the start, but I’m not expecting it. Four Juventus players have made the trip, with two likely start.

Here’s the rest of the team:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Mattia Perin (Genoa);

Defenders: Davide Astori (Fiorentina), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Milan), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Danilo D’Ambrosio (Inter), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Leonardo Spinazzola (Atalanta), Davide Zappacosta (Chelsea);

Midfielders: Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Antonio Candreva (Inter), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Roberto Gagliardini (Inter), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Jorge Luiz Frello Jorginho (Napoli), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain);

Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Eder Citadin Martins (Inter), Manolo Gabbiadini (Southampton), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Simone Zaza (Valencia).

Sweden’s squad is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Johnsson, Nordfeldt, Olsen

Defenders: Augustinsson, Granqvist, Helander, Jansson, Krafht, Larsson, Lustig, Lindelof, Olsson

Midfielders: Claesson, Durmat, Ekdal, Forsberg, Johansson, Larsson, Rohden, Sema, Svensson

Forwards: Berg, Guidetti, Toivonen, Thelin

If you’re surprised there’s a name missing, then you’re like I was. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is hurt until December, according to Transfermarkt, creating a huge boost for Italy’s chances.

MATCH INFO

Location: Friends Arena, Stockholm, Sweden

Kickoff time: 8:45 p.m. local time in Italy; 2:45 p.m. on the East Coast; 11:45 a.m. on the West Coast

STARTING LINEUPS

Italy starting XI: Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Candreva, Parolo, De Rossi, Verratti, Darmian; Immobile, Belotti

Italy bench: Donnarumma, Perin, Rugani, Gagliardini, Florenzi, Insigne, Astori, Jorginho, Eder, Bernardeschi, Zappacosta, Gabbiadini

Sweden starting XI: R Olsen; Krafth, Granqvist, Lindelof, Augustinsson; Claesson, Ekdal, Larsson, Forsberg; Berg, Toivonen

Sweden bench: Johnsson, Nodfeldt, Larsson, Olsson, Guidetti, Johansson, Helander, Svensson, Jansson, Rohden, Thelin, Sema

WATCH IT

TV: Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes (United States); Sportsnet West, Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet World Now (Canada); Sky Sports Football, Sky Sports Main Event, NOW TV UK (United Kingdom); RAI Uno (Italy)

Online/Mobile: FOX Sports GO, fuboTV, FOX Soccer Match Pass (United States); Sky Go UK (United Kingdom)

Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, you can also follow along with us live and all the stupid things we say on Twitter. If you haven't already, join the community on Black & White & Read All Over, and join in the discussion below.