Well the day has come. In less than a week the match none of us wants to think about will be played, Sweden vs Portugal. Ever since the draw was made I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I remember that before the draw was made I said “if I’ll have to predict which team Sweden will meet then I say Portugal because I’m always wrong”. Seven minutes later I was right. The nightmare had come true.
Which team will make it? Will Zlatan score 4 goals and take Sweden to Brazil or will Ronaldo score that one or three goals and win the game? I’ve been thinking a lot about it and I’d like to think that Sweden will win. The sad thing is that whatever happens Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic will not play in the next world cup. So what will happen this friday? Well let’s look at previous meetings.
In the World Cup Qualification 2010 they met each other. In the two games played 0 goals were scored, both were 0-0 draws. For Sweden it was a sucess but for Portugal a failure. But why were no goals scored? Well the main reasons was Sweden’s incredible defense. With Daniel Majstorovic and Olof Mellberg they could draw without Ibrahimovic. Portugal never got any chances because of those two defenders. And when they finally got a chance Andreas Isaksson made a fantastic save.
When it was away for Portugal in Stockholm it was an acceptable result, but home very bad. But because of Sweden’s incredible defense Ronaldo simply couldn’t score that one goal. Sweden had very few chances in both games, but that’s what happens when Ibrahimovic isn’t playing right? In a group with Denmark, Albania, Hungary and Malta, Portugal finished second with just one more point than Sweden. Sweden lost both their games against Denmark which was one of the main reasons to why they failed to reach the second place.
Since then Sweden and Portugal haven’t met each other. Sweden’s team have changed a lot, neither Mellberg or Majstorovic are still playing. The defense has changed a lot even during this year’s qualification. After Euro 2012 the ordinary defenders for Sweden were Jonas Olsson (West Bromwich) and Andreas Granqvist (Krasnodar). They looked great together until the horrible away match against Austria took place in Wien on the 7th of June. Already in the first half Sweden were down with two goals.
Olsson and Granqvist received a HUGE amount of criticism and has since then never played in the starting eleven for Sweden. Their coach Erik Hamrén chose to play with Per Nilsson (Nürnberg) and Mikael Antonsson (Bologna). Both are defenders that are over 30 years old and have never played for Sweden’s National Football Team before. Still, they made an impressive game against Norway before September. Ireland away was next and it was a must win game for both teams. Sweden won it with 2-1 and won their next two games against Kazakhstan and Austria. They had secured a play-off place now.
But waiting was the last game which didn’t matter, it was Sweden against Germany. The first half looked good but in the second Sweden let the Germans score 4 goals. So on Friday the real question is not the attacking, it’s the defense. Jonas Olsson has had a great form in Premier League so far and is hoping to replace Nilsson because of an injury he got on saturday’s game. Will he replace him? Will the original duo for Sweden make their comeback against Portugal?
However, this question is not only for the Swedes. It’s also a question for the Portuguese. Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid) is injured and will probably not play against Sweden. He might but when writing this I really don’t know. He’s an important for player for Portugal but the rest of the defense looks good with Pepe being a really great defender. But why didn’t Portugal reach the first place in their group? For them, it’s surprising. With a pretty easy group with teams such as Russia, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg and Israel they couldn’t win the group.
Russia is a very strong team but only won the group with one point more than Portugal. Russia won all their home games but had a mixed form away. With a defeat against Northern Ireland. But Portugal didn’t always play at their best. With 6 points in their first two games they got 2 points in their next three games. With one defeat against Russia and two draws against Israel and Northern Ireland. They managed to win their 3 next games but then it was time to play against Israel at home.
It was in that match it was going to be decided if Portugal were going to Brazil immideatly or if play-offs were their next step. Portugal were leading with one goal until the 85th minute when Rui Patricio made one of the biggest mistakes ever. He accidently passed an Israeli player who could easily put the ball into the net. The game ended 1-1 and Portugal were now in a play-off spot. Their last victory against Luxembourg still wasn’t enough for them.
What was the problems for Portugal except for Rui Patricio’s goalkeeper fail? I’ve asked a few Portugese people around the internet and some of them are saying that Ronaldo doesn’t score when he needs to, he scores when he doesn’t have to score. He scored 4 goals but 3 of the goals were scored in the same match. After the two first games for Portugal no more goals were scored by the fantastic Real Madrid left winger.
But Portugal, they are known for giving everything when it comes to play-off. In the previous play-off for the World Cup 2010 Portugal won over Bosnia with 2-0. Now, I will not mention anything more negative about Portugal but some people say that he is the man who scores all the goals for Portugal. That’s not true, Portugal have another great goal scorer called Hélder Postiga. He scored 6 goals in this year’s qualification.
It’s not true for Sweden either, that Ibrahimovic scores all the goals. Even though he scored 6 goals for Sweden in the qualification only 33% of the goals came from him. With Johan Elmander (Norwich) Sweden has another great scorer as well. But in my opinion, Ibrahimovic scores when he needs to. For example, the last minute goal against Austria which took Sweden to the play-offs was probably his most important goal ever for Sweden. Against Kazakhstan away he also scored the winner and the only goal in the match just 27 seconds after the game had started.
But will Portugal or Sweden win? Looking back at the latest 10 years Portugal has made it to one Uefa Euro final, one Uefa Euro semi-final and a fourth place in the World Cup 2006. Meanwhile Sweden have made it to one World Cup Round of 16 and one Uefa Euro quarter-final. If you’re just going to base your prediction on that then Portugal will win with 5-0 home and 2-0 away or anything like that. But Sweden have found their form this year. After the defeat against Austria few Swedes thought they were going to get a 2nd place but with four victories in a row they impressivly made it. Portugal is a team which football lovers expect to be in the World Cup everytime but barely made it to South Africa four years ago.
This Friday will be more exciting than any Friday I’ve had this year. Can Sweden hold the defense and get a 0-0 draw and then get that one goal home or will Portugal ruin the party and never let Ibrahimovic play in a world cup again? I suppose that I should end this blog my own prediction so here we go:
On Friday the first leg will be played in Lisbon. And I obviously think that Sweden can hold the defense we had four years ago. But I don’t think it will be another 0-0. In the 32nd minute Hélder Postiga will score 1-0. Sweden will keep that defense and in the 78th minute Ibrahimovic will get a nice shot and score 1-1. That’s my prediction for the 1st leg.
Second leg will be played on the 19th of November in Stockholm. Sweden will remember that they have that one goal away which will make them win even though the game ends 0-0. So Sweden will have a really good defense and sucesfully hold a clean sheet. Sweden will have a few chances but will not score any goals and the game will end 0-0. With that being said, I think Sweden make it to Brazil. Good luck Sweden!
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Thanks for reading have a great day and bye!