Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Preview: Portugal vs. Sweden – prediction, team news, lineups

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Sports Mole previews Thursday’s friendly clash between Portugal and Sweden, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Jon Dahl Tomasson will take charge of his first game as manager of Sweden when they do battle with Portugal in an international friendly at the Estadio Dom Afonso Henriques on Thursday.

The two nations meet for the first time since October 2020 when Portugal recorded a 3-0 win in Lisbon in the UEFA Nations League.

Match preview

© Reuters

After being eliminated from the 2022 World Cup by Morocco at the quarter-final stage, Portugal dusted themselves down and won all 10 games in Euro 2024 qualifying to comfortably top Group J, becoming the only nation to advance to this summer’s Finals with a 100% record.

Roberto Martinez‘s men also scored the most goals (36) and conceded the fewest (two) during this period to come out on top and finish above Slovakia, who have also qualified, as well as Luxembourg, Iceland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Liechtenstein.

Portugal’s most recent outing came in mid-November when they claimed a routine 2-0 home win over Iceland thanks to goals from Bruno Fernandes and Ricardo Horta, but despite that result and their impressive 10-game winning streak, they dropped down a place to seventh in the FIFA world rankings.

Os Navegadores now have five friendly fixtures to prepare for ahead of their opening Euro 2024 group-stage match with the Czech Republic on June 18, starting with encounters against Sweden and Slovenia during this month’s international break.

Since the turn of the millennium, Portugal have won five of their nine meetings with Sweden, although they were beaten 3-2 at home to the Scandinavian outfit in their last friendly encounter in March 2017.

Blackburn Rovers manager Jon Dahl Tomasson on April 10, 2023© Reuters

For the first time in almost three decades, Sweden will not be competing at the European Championships after they finished third in Group F of Euro 2024 qualifying behind Belgium and Austria.

The Blue-Yellow finished nine points behind second-placed Austria after winning just three of their eight qualifiers, leading to the resignation of manager Janne Andersson after seven years at the helm.

Andersson has since been succeeded by Danish coach Jon Dahl Tomasson, who left his role in charge of Blackburn Rovers at the end of last month to take up his first managerial job on the international stage, having previously spent three years as an assistant coach with Denmark.

Swedish FA’s head of football Kim Kallstrom believes that “Tomasson’s characteristics fit the requirement profile well” and is confident the 47-year-old can get the best out of the current crop of senior stars while implementing “a positive attacking football” philosophy.

Sweden, ranked 26th in the world by FIFA, will be looking to make steps in the right direction across four friendly fixtures over the next four months, starting with Thursday’s clash with Portugal, before they prepare for their UEFA Nations League campaign in September.

Portugal form (all competitions):

Sweden form (all competitions):

Team News

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their second goal on October 13, 2023© Reuters

Although Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo has been called up to Martinez’s 32-man squad this month, the 39-year-old Al-Nassr striker will not be involved on Thursday and is currently on holiday with his family in Saudi Arabia.

Ronaldo is one of eight players along with Joao Cancelo, Diogo Dalot, Danilo Pereira, Ruben Neves, Vitinha, Otavio and Joao Felix who will be rested by Martinez.

First-team regulars including Bernardo Silva, who scored in Portugal’s last meeting with Sweden, and Fernandes are in contention to start, though, while the likes of Antonio Silva, Joao Neves, Francisco Conceicao and Jota Silva – the latter two have received their first senior call-ups – will also be pushing to feature in some capacity.

As for Sweden, they primarily set up with a flat 4-4-2 formation under former boss Andersson, but Tomasson may consider using a similar 4-3-3 system, that changes into a 3-2-5 shape in possession, that he deployed during his time at Blackburn.

While Jesper Karlstrom has already withdrawn from the squad due to illness, Gustaf Nilsson and Anton Saletros are in contention to make their first international appearances since 2018 and 2020 respectively; Heerenveen midfielder Simon Olsson, meanwhile, is the only uncapped player in Tomasson’s squad.

Victor Lindelof is at risk of losing the captaincy, but the Manchester United man is still expected to play in defence, while Newcastle United’s Alexander Isak, Tottenham Hotspur’s Dejan Kulusevski and Sporting Lisbon goal machine Viktor Gyokeres are all in contention to start in attack.

Portugal possible starting lineup:
Costa; Semedo, Dias, Pepe, Guerreiro; Fernandes, Palhinha, J. Neves; Bernardo, Ramos, Leao

Sweden possible starting lineup:
Olsen; Holm, Hien, Lindelof, Gudmundsson; Cajuste, Larsson, Forsburg; Kulusevski, Gyokeres, Isak

SM words green background

We say: Portugal 2-1 Sweden

It remains to be seen how strong both teams will line up for this contest, but Sweden will be somewhat boosted by the news that Ronaldo is among a number of Portuguese regulars who will not be involved on Thursday.

A closely-contested encounter could therefore be on the cards, with Sweden hoping to make a bright start under Tomasson, but we believe that Portugal will still have enough quality on show to secure the victory on home soil.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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