SWEDEN vs PORTUGAL, Solna, 11/10/08
Both Sweden and Portugal are facing injury nightmares ahead of Saturday’s UFWC / WC Qualifying clash.
The latest addition to the big match injury list is Sweden’s still-influential captain Henrik Larsson, after the 37-year-old Helsingborg striker injured a thigh in training. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever had this kind of injury situation,’ said coach Lars Lagerback. The Swedes are already without defenders Erik Edman and Olof Mellberg, and midfielders Anders Svensson, Christian Wilhelmsson and Tobias Linderoth.
Portugal boss Carlos Queiroz will be without midfielders Maniche and Deco, who were both called up despite suffering from injuries. Neither will have recovered in time for the game. Simao Sabrosa, Ricardo Carvalho, Pedro Mendes and Miguel Veloso are all already out. However, Queriroz can recall his former Manchester United charge Cristiano Ronaldo.
The two sides last met in Coimbra in 2004, in a friendly that finished 2-2. Sweden are currently ranked ninth in the all-time UFWC table, having won 26 title matches. Portugal have a poor record in the UFWC, having won only 2 title matches – the last of which was in 1992. FIFA, however, rank Portugal at 10 and Sweden at 26 in their rankings.
Recent form would place Portugal as favourites, but Sweden have home advantage. However, the absence of Larsson may prove crucial.