We continue with our list of 4 players from each side who will be crucial in deciding the matches in their respective teams’ favor(s).
Andreas Granqvist: The 32-year old Krasnodar defender will be leading the back-lines for the Scandinavian country against the mighty Italians. Taking on the armband from Zlatan, he’ll be desperate to take Sweden back to the big leagues after 12 long years.
Sebastian Larsson: The former Sunderland midfielder has led the midfield in Swedish colors for 94 times and the fans will definitely want to see him deliver one more time to take them to Russia.
Emil Forsberg: The RB Leipzig midfielder was one of the major reasons for his club’s route to the Champions League and he even scored their first ever goal in Europe’s elite club competition. Come to the tie against Italy, Janne Andersson will be counting heavily on the 26-year old to deliver.
Marcus Berg: The Al-Ain forward was the highest scorer in the Group A qualifiers including a hat-trick(he scored 4 goals in total) during the Blågult’s 8-0 thumping against Luxembourg. The 1958 World Cup runners-up will be counting once again on this 31-year old to deliver in front of the goal against the team who knocked them out of the Euro 2016.
Giorgio Chiellini: The veteran defender has been a soldier of many a battle. Part of the famous B-B-C of Italian football, the 6-times Serie A winners with Juventus will be once again leading the world-renowned Italian back-line against the Swedes.
Lorenzo Insigne: The SSC Napoli winger has been one of the best Italian players in recent time. The 26-year old “little man” will be expected to wreak through the Swedish defence in Italy’s final hurdle to their 19th world cup finals.
Antonio Candreva: The Inter Milan man has often been criticised for his crossing, but he’s been on fire with the same of late with his club. Gian Piero Ventura will look up to the man, who scored the winner in their last qualifying group match against Albania.
Ciro Immobile: The Former Torino forward has been a player reborn this season at SS Lazio with 14 goals and 6 assists in 12 games, leading in both the charts. The Azzuri will be counting heavily on the 27-year old to rekindle his sweet partnership with Insigne to find the back of the net.
Simon Kjær: The Sevilla centre back, will be captaining a very talented Danish side in hope to reach their 5th world cup finals. Additional to that, the 28-year old will also have the duty to keep the defensive organization intact.
William Kvist: The experienced midfielder will be stationed at the defensive third to thwart the Irish attacks and ball distribution.
Christian Eriksen: The Tottenham man is one of the best midfielders in the world and the majority of the responsibility to take The Red and Whites to Russia will lie on the shoulders of Denmark’s top scorer in the qualifying group matches.
Nicklas Bendtner: Often being the center of attraction for trolling on social media, the 29-year old is his country’s 7th top scorer in history. Manager Åge Hareide will be reliant on the former Arsenal and Juventus forward to disturb the scorers during the playoffs.
Republic of Ireland:
John O’Shea: The former Sunderland defender is his country’s 3rd all-time capped player. In the absence of injured captain Seamus Coleman, responsibility to guide the Irish back-line will lie with the former UEFA Champions League winner with Manchester United.
Aiden McGeady: Another Sunderland player who is 8 caps away from a century. The experienced midfielder will be marshaling the midfield for Martin O’Neill’s men.
James McClean: The West Bromwich Albion winger was top scorer in the group stages, including 2 vital away winners at Vienna and Cardiff to take the Gaelic nation to the playoffs. His form will be vital for the men in green to get ahead of the final hurdle for the first time since 2002.
Shane Long: The Southampton forward is the 7th highest goal scorer in history for the Green Army and will once again be the main target man to find the back of the net against the 1992 European champions.