Soccer Betting: Portugal vs. Sweden World Cup Qualifying Pick
Two nations. One spot in the World Cup. Will it be Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal or Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden that books a spot in Brazil?
Check out SBRs 2014 World Cup Odds, Futures & Predictions
Lisbon’s Luz stadium will play host to the first leg of this playoff, with the Portuguese hoping to get off to a flying start before heading to Sweden.
Oddsmakers like Portugal’s chances of doing just that –soccer odds have Ronaldo and company at a roughly -140 to win straight up, with Sweden at +425 and a draw at +270.
In a group that featured Russia, Israel, Azerbaijan, Northern Ireland and Luxembourg, Portugal ended up in second place with 21 total points. The Russians ended up winning Group F.
In all, they finished with six wins, three draws and one loss, while owning a goal differential of plus 11. The last time we saw the Portuguese in action, they beat Luxembourg 3-0 at home, with Silvestre Varela, Nani and Helder Postiga scoring for the victors.
Coach Paulo Bento didn’t even need Ronaldo out there in that final qualifying match, but there’s no doubt he’ll be in the starting XI for this crucial match in Lisbon.
Ronaldo has been on fire once again this season, scoring 24 times in 17 combined La Liga and Champions League appearances for Real Madrid.
But he’s not the only one the Swedes need to be worried about. Postiga has been scoring a good deal of goals as well, Nani can be extremely dangerous, and Portugal has other options to lean on like Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles. Defensively, Bento can call on the likes of Bruno Alves and Pepe, while Fabio Coentrao could also be available.
The Swedes survived a tough group, having to deal with Germany, Austria, Ireland, Kazakhstan and Faroe Islands.
Germany dominated Group C, with Sweden ending up in second. They recorded six wins, two draws and two losses, with their 2-1 victory over Austria sealing a spot into the playoff.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been a one-man wrecking crew for PSG and he’ll have to take on that role for the Swedes as well, that is if they want to advance over Portugal.
Ibrahimovic has been scoring goals like mad lately, netting 14 times over his last nine appearances for club and country combined. He just scored all three goals in PSG’s 3-1 league win over Nice, so his confidence couldn’t be any higher right now.
Who else do we need to look out for in the Sweden squad? Norwich City’s Martin Olsson will feature in defense, while Sunderland’s Seb Larsson and Fulham’s Alexander Kacaniklic are also likely to crack the starting XI. Up front, we’re likely to see Johan Elmander pair up with Ibrahimovic, with Ola Toivonen and Alexander Gerndt the other forwards available.
World Cup Qualifying Pick
This is going to be good.
Two of the world’s best players, both in fantastic form, will be fighting it out tooth and nail in hopes of leading their respective countries to the World Cup in Brazil. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
Portugal simply has to start this two-legged tie off on the right foot. There will be a great atmosphere in Lisbon and that’s obviously going to help, but it’s Ronaldo’s influence that will matter most. Like Ibrahimovic, he can swing matches by himself, and we believe he’ll make the biggest impact in a tight Portugal win for our free soccer pick.
Soccer Pick: Portugal 2 Sweden 1