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WCQ: Portugal x Sweden

Portuguese Sensation

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sweden at Portugal

Here's what you need to know...

- This will be the 15th meeting between these two countries. Portugal has only defeated Sweden three times - their last was in a Friendly in October 2002.

- Sweden's last win over Portugal was in 1984 in a World Cup Qualifier

- Sweden has never lost a game in Portugal


Denmark 3GP 2W 1D 0L 7Pts

Hungary 4GP 2W 1D 1L 7Pts

Albania 5GP 1W 3D 1L 6Pts

Portugal 4GP 1W 2D 1L 5Pts

Sweden 3GP 1W 2D 0L 5Pts

Malta 5GP 0W 1D 4L 1Pts

*Group Winner automatically advances to 2010 World Cup

*Top Eight Runner-Ups advance to a Home & Away Playoff - Winners advance

It's time to dust off the old cliché book as Portugal is stuck behind the eight ball, have their backs up against the wall, and are facing a "do or die" situation against Sweden. As they hit the halfway point of their qualifying campaign, there is simply no room for error as the Portuguese must avoid both defeat and a draw in order to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

Portugal sits tied for fourth in their qualifying group with Sweden - both with five points. Sweden has a slight advantage having played three games, as opposed to Portugal's four. Denmark sits first with seven points from just three games played. Needless to say, the Danes are carrying a huge target on their backs.

A win is so important against Sweden. Forget the obvious in that it keeps their World Cup hopes alive, but a win would give them some much needed confidence going into the game that will decide their fate. On September 5th, the Portuguese will travel to Denmark in a game that could likely determine a berth at the World Cup. Keep in mind, Denmark will be coming off a game on June 6th against Sweden. In other words, there are three big games in a matter of months that will clear up a muddy picture in Group 1 of Qualifying.

Portugal has struggled to find any sort of consistancy in their previous four games. Their offence has dried up under new Head Coach Carlos Queiroz - who now finds himself under the gun to produce a solid performance against Sweden or face the axe.

With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, and Deco, there is no excuse for this team to fail to put the ball into the onion bag. Time is of the essence and if Portugal expects to qualify for their 5th World Cup, they'll need a performance of a lifetime in less than 4-hours.


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As much as I disliked Scolari and his tactics and admire Queiroz, I'm afraid Queiroz isn't up to the job. Queiroz shat the bed last time he coached the Senior squad and is doing the exact thing again this time around.

Part of it may be a lack of leadership from the players. Bruno Alves and Joao Moutinho may be the closest thing to a Messier-style, grab 'em by the balls leader.

Regardless, the biggest issue today is goaltending. I was never a fan of Ricardo, and the Benfica dumb and Dumber duo never impressed anyone other than the Lisbon contigent that have influenced the national team selection. Eduardo from Braga, Beto from Leixoes and he that shall not be named v2.0 from Bochum should be interesting....

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I hope Queiroz can still find some magic from his "Golden Generation" run in 1991 at the World Youth Championships. Unfortunately, he just doesn't seem to get the most out of his players on a senior level. Perhaps he's destined to be an assistant - and a good one at that! He's thrived under Sir Alex and quite frankly, some people are better assistants than Head Coaches.

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Hopefully Sir Alex will take him back.

Player selections - can't fault him for starting Simao ahead of Nani, but after 30 minutes it was obvious Simao is as useless with the national team as he's alway's been. Should've been subbed. Starting Thiago and Danny ahead of Deco makes sense, but neither have proven themselves at the international stage, whereas Deco always steps up. Could've started Deco alongside Danny and then brought in thiago as a sub. Having 3 centre backs was also retarded. Pepe, Carvalho and Alves were confused and luckily didn't cost any goals due to sheer individual skill rather than any tactical nous.

Formation - 4-4-2 with the two up front being wingers. Duda - Alves - Carvalho -Bosingwa in the back, Meireles - - Pepe - Danny - Thiago in the middle and Simao and Ronaldo on the wings. How do you not play with a striker???

Luckily Ibrahimovic didn't play and Sweden couldn't muster much offense. And we found the first decent goalie in Eduardo since Vitor Baia. (Don't get me going on that useless Ricardo). Portugal needs to win all 5 of the remaining games and hope Sweden/Hungary/Denmark all tie each other.

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Portugal is in trouble and that's putting it mildly. Three consecutive games without a goal is unacceptable!

I'm also baffled as to why Hugo Almeida wasn't out as a striker to start the game... and why they didn't bring Deco in earlier is beyond me. He made such a huge difference the second he stepped onto the pitch.

When the team's game plan was cross the ball into the box from the wing, it's pretty clear that they need someone up front that can get the job done.

A disappointing performance and one that has really put us in a tough spot.

Three dates to keep an eye out for...

June 6: Denmark @ Sweden

September 5: Portugal @ Denmark

October 10: Sweden @ Denmark

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