SOCHI, Russia: Sweden’s preparations for their World Cup clash against Germany have been hampered by a stomach bug that has prevented three players from travelling to Sochi, where Saturday’s game will be played.
Coach Janne Andersson revealed that defenders Pontus Jansson and Filip Helander, along with midfielder Marcus Rohden, were left behind at the team’s tournament base further up Russia’s Black Sea coast in Gelendzhik to avoid any danger of the illness spreading.
However, the hope is that they will recover to come to Sochi in time for the match.
“We have split the squad. We didn’t bring them on the flight because we didn’t know what had made them feel a bit queasy, but they will travel tomorrow,” Andersson said at a press conference at Sochi’s Fisht Stadium on Friday.
Sweden’s team doctor said in a statement on the official Swedish FA website that the trio were “on the mend”.
Of the three, only Leeds United defender Jansson played in Sweden’s opening 1-0 win over South Korea, and that was because Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof was ill.
Lindelof has travelled to Sochi and could return against Germany but there is a doubt over striker Isaac Kiese Thelin, who has an ankle problem.
While Sweden, who qualified for the finals after ousting Italy in a play-off, come into the game in a strong position, Germany are on the brink of a full-blown crisis.
A defeat at the hands of Mexico in the first match of their trophy defence means they cannot afford another slip-up in Group F on Saturday.
“This is really what you spend your whole career and life working towards. It is an extraordinary opportunity to be involved in a World Cup match like this,” said Andersson.
“Whether we knock out Germany is one thing, but we have a chance to qualify and that is extraordinary.”