Sweden hope to get Ibrahimovic into the game

Ronaldo braced for a tough encounter

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo dives to score the only goal of the game in the World Cup qualifying play-off first leg game against Sweden last week in Lisbon. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo dives to score the only goal of the game in the World Cup qualifying play-off first leg game against Sweden last week in Lisbon. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP

Tue, Nov 19, 2013, 01:00

Sweden know their World Cup hopes rest on getting the ball to Zlatan Ibrahimovic as they prepare for the second leg of their qualifying play-off against Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal.

The battle of the superstar forwards went Ronaldo’s way in the first leg as his diving header gave Portugal a 1-0 advantage, and Sweden were left to ponder the scraps on which Ibrahimovic fed. Sebastian Larsson believes Sweden simply need to play higher up the pitch in order to pose a greater threat. He said: “We cannot go out all guns blazing but we must have a more attacking game with more ball higher up the pitch, then we will get Zlatan more in the game.”

They could also have conditions on their side, with the Portuguese media already pointing nervously to forecasts which predict temperatures will be around freezing point.

With the condition of the pitch also being brought into question, Ronaldo is braced for a tough encounter. “Portugal have a small advantage, and we are expecting a very difficult game, but we are ready,” he said. “More than anything else, these players want to be in Brazil, so we will give our best to get there.”

Iceland did well to draw 0-0 with Croatia in Reykjavik but face a difficult away leg while Greece are strong favourites to advance from the remaining qualifier after taking a 3-1 lead against Romania in Athens.