Zlatan Ibrahimovic v Cristiano Ronaldo: Ibrahimovic can handle the pressure says Sweden coach ahead of World Cup play-off against Portugal

Portugal hold a 1-0 advantage following the first leg

Round one went to Cristiano Ronaldo. But on Tuesday night the fight between he and Zlatan Ibrahimovic reconvenes and we are little closer to knowing which one of these football stars will be in Brazil, and which will be at home watching it on television.

The first leg of their World Cup play-off ended 1-0 to Portugal with their captain and £80m man scoring a diving header in the 82nd minute to separate the sides. Yet, even the Real Madrid forward admits their lead is nowhere near decisive.

“We’ve got the minimum advantage, but it’s better than a draw,” said Ronaldo after the game in Lisbon. “It would be better if our lead was bigger. We have a big battle in Sweden.”

That battle will take place in Stockholm tomorrow evening.

At 32, for Ibrahimovic this perhaps represents his final chance to reach a World Cup, but despite the must win nature of tomorrow's game, his coach is confident the PSG forward will handle the pressure.

"He's been at this level for many, many years and for us it's not Ronaldo v Zlatan it's Portugal v Sweden," explained Erik Hamren.

Hamren is also well aware that defeat would spell the end of his tenure in charge of Sweden, but like Zlatan, he will take it in his stride.

"It's happened to me a few times before as a club coach, when you know that if we lose a game there's not much left of the job," Hamren told reporters on Monday.

"But I'm not thinking about that one bit. My focus is on succeeding and if we do succeed we don't need to discuss it."

With Portugal holding the advantage from the first leg, Sweden know they must win the match on the night in order to progress.

"We need to score, that's for sure," the coach added. "They can play more for the result, they have an advantage in that.

"We meet a really good team with really good international players so we can't start the match and just go forward and have the ambition to score easy and early because then they're going to punish us quickly."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo after the first leg Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo after the first leg  

Hamren revealed that the Sweden squad have been practising penalties in case the teams finish level on aggregate.

"Those who are used to taking penalties, they don't need to have some training because they do it a lot," said Hamren. "But the players who aren't used to taking penalties, they took some today.

"It's a mental thing of course and if it's been a long time then they need to have done it before the game."

Should penalties be required, the pressure on Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic would be at its utmost, but with success would come the knock-out blow in this tantalising match-up.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor