What: 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Playoff – Second Leg
Who: Sweden (0) vs Portugal (1) – First leg score in brackets
When: Tuesday 19th November, 2013, at 19:45 UK Time
Where: Friends Arena, Solna, Sweden

Backs Against the Wall

Sweden could only muster a 1-0 loss to Portugal in the first leg of their FIFA World Cup qualification skirmish. Hardly an unassailable lead for the Portuguese, the Scandinavian side must now reassemble as they hope to reverse their fortunes and book a ticket to Brazil at the expense of Cristiano Ronaldo and his team-mates. The time for action is now for Erik Hamren’s men.

The Yellow-Blues held their own for most of the time at the Estadio da Luz in the first leg, before a header from Ronaldo meant that they returned home behind. Speaking after the game, Hamren rued his side’s performance, telling his players to improve their game in the reverse leg.

“They pushed more in the second half and we were forced to play too many balls in the air. The goal we conceded was a bit sloppy by post. I'm always disappointed when we lose, I would have been really happy with the draw. We must work hard in the second leg. I hope we will play better at home. 

“After this we must win the next game at all costs. We will do everything we can to win”, concluded the ex-Rosenborg technician. 

Work Still Needed

Ronaldo’s header was the only thing that separated the two sides on Friday night. However, when referee Howard Webb calls this game to a stop, only one side will go through to the World Cup. But despite having a foot in the competition, Portugal coach Paulo Bento knows that his side are confronting a hard match in the Swedish cold and are not safe just yet.

This was reiterated by match winner Ronaldo, who despite having granted his nation an advantage going into this game, still expects a hard night at the Friends Arena. 

“We could have scored more, but we must be happy because it was a good result. Tuesday is another battle. We've only got a small advantage, but that is better than the draw. The second leg will be toe-to-toe. We know it will be a difficult game, but we are prepared. It would have been better to have a greater advantage, but we do not”, declared the Ballon d’Or contender.


Recent form

Sweden 2-1 Austria (11/10; World Cup qualifying)
Sweden 3-5 Germany (15/10; World Cup qualifying)
Portugal 1-0 Sweden (15/11; World Cup qualifying)

Portugal 1-1 Israel (11/10; World Cup qualifying)
Portugal 3-0 Luxembourg (15/10; World Cup qualifying)
Portugal 1-0 Sweden (15/11; World Cup qualifying)

Players to watch

Sweden – Zlatan Ibrahimovic: The Paris Saint-Germain striker will be eager to lead his country to the World Cup and the tie as a whole has been billed as pitting him against Ronaldo. But Ibrahimovic is about more than goals and can inspire those around him.

Portugal – Cristiano Ronaldo: The winger’s header was another addition to his fine 2013 tally, as he hopes to continue his great run. It was rumoured that he will miss the upcoming FIFA Ballon d’Or celebration as a result of Sepp Blatter’s recent remarks, but either way Ronaldo will want to do his talking on the pitch.

Match Prediction

Sweden will have the home advantage as they hope to reverse the tie and qualify for the World Cup. At home in front of their crowd, they will display a better aspect of their game than they did at Benfica’s stadium. Expect a 2-1 scoreline for the hosts, but with Portugal still going through on the away-goal rule.

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