Sweden coach Erik Hamren has insisted that his star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic can handle the pressure of their World Cup playoff second leg on Tuesday. After a 1-0 defeat in Lisbon last week, Sweden’s hopes are hanging in the balance heading into the return match at Solna’s Friends Arena. Ibrahimovic struggled to make an impact last time out, but Hamren believes that the Paris Saint-Germain striker is up to the challenge, although he cannot do it alone.
“He's been at this level for many, many years and for us it's not [Cristiano] Ronaldo v Zlatan it's Portugal v Sweden," he explained, according to Reuters.
Ibrahimovic was not helped in the first leg by Sweden’s increasingly negative tactics. Hamren accepts they will need to be bolder at home in order to overturn their deficit, but that a balance needs to be struck.
"We need to score, that's for sure," he added. "They can play more for the result, they have an advantage in that.
"We meet a really good team with really good international players so we can't start the match and just go forward and have the ambition to score easy and early because then they're going to punish us quickly."
Sweden have confirmed the same starting lineup that took to the field in Lisbon, meaning that veteran midfielder Anders Svensson will again have to make do with a place on the bench.
Portugal coach Paulo Bento is also likely to name an unchanged lineup, although Fabio Coentrao has been carrying a knock. Despite carrying a lead, after his side were finally able to get the breakthrough on Friday through Ronaldo’s header, Bento is determined that his side do more than merely sit back and hold what they have.
“We want to have the ball and to attack," he said, according to Uefa.com. "It will be important to score though we know that even if we score one the tie will not be settled. Our strategy is to win this match, but for that we will have to be fully focused and ready for whatever crops up.”
The roof at the Friends Arena is expected to remain open, although that could change should the weather become overly inclement.
D: Lustig, Nilsson, Antonsson, M. Olsson
M: Larsson, Elm, Kallstrom, Kacaniklic
F: Elmander, Ibrahimovic
D: Pereira, Alves, Pepe, Coentrao
M: Meireles, Veloso, Moutinho
F: Nani, Postiga, Ronaldo
Where to watch: The second leg of the World Cup playoff will kick off at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, with a live stream available on Watch ESPN.