As the FIFA 2014 World Cup creeps up on soccer fans across the world, Portuguese and Swedish fans will see a clash of the titans as Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic go head to head, for one of the last four, qualifying spots for European countries in the FIFA World Cup.
In the draw held earlier this week, Portugal was matched up against Sweden. (The other three match-ups are Iceland vs. Croatia, France vs. Ukraine and Greece vs. Romania.) The games will be played either November 15 and 19.
Both Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic are team captains for their national teams. According to ESPN FC, Ibrahimovic is considered to be one of the best strikers in the world. The Swedes hope he will carry them through to the qualifying round.
“Sweden has a solid team, they have one of the top three strikers in the world. Plus they have Zlatan and tall white boys on the field,” says Jonathan Rosete, a Swedish fan.
Sweden and Portugal have faced each other 15 times. In the 2010 World Cup qualifiers Portugal and Sweden drew 0-0. Sweden has not qualified for the past two World Cups. Portugal has qualified for the last two World Cups, but they came fourth place in Germany in 2006 and got kicked out in the round of 16 in South Africa in 2010.
Ukraine who is ranked 20th will face France who is ranked 21st. Greece who ranked 15th will face Romania, who ranked 29th. The underdogs Iceland ranking 46th will face off against 18th placed Croatia.
Ukraine is going through a transitional period after of the retirement of former captain Andriy Shevchenko following the last Euro Cup. Ukraine’s team captiain, Anatoliy Tymoshuck will be facing the experienced French team, with Experienced players like Franck Ribery and other young players like Karim Benzema and Samir Nazri.
John Molinaro, a reporter for Sportsnet, says that will be a close one. “France has experience, they got more veteran players and a healthy mix of healthy players (like) Samir Nazri. When guys like him play to full capability, their team can pull through.”
Iceland is the underdog in the grouping and will have to go up against Croatia, a well seasoned team in World Cup qualifying matches.
Both Romania and Greece are facing crucial qualifying games. Both of these teams have been unsuccessful in qualifying for the past two World Cups.
Each playoff team will have a home game and an away game. November 15 and 19 are the two days scheduled for the playoffs.
Some fans, who still want to enjoy the beautiful game’s biggest event next summer, are thinking about the team they will support if their preferred country doesn’t make it through these playoffs.
“I would probably back up Spain because they have the whole package. Every single time they got on the field they have dominated. They play so strategically, they have a team that plays well together,” says Vanessa Mendonca, a Portuguese fan.
Aspiring journalist, currently reporting for Skedline.com.