One of Europe's giants will miss out on a place at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Either Cristiano Ronaldo or Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be absent from the tournament, a huge loss for onlookers across the globe.
In an attempt to work out exactly who will be missing, we pitted Paulo Bento's team against Erik Hamren's squad across two legs on FIFA 14.
Which team better get the jet ready? Read on to find out.
FIFA 14 Match Report
Portugal vs. Sweden, World Cup Playoff First Leg
5'—Portugal keep possession from kick off and Cristiano Ronaldo gathers pace down the left. He is tackled but receives the ball after a quick throw.
A piece of tremendous skill sees him outfox Mikael Lustig and he crosses a deep ball into Helder Postiga. The striker jumps higher than Per Nilsson and Martin Olsson to crash a header off the post and into the net. Andreas Isaksson is rooted to the spot and given no chance.
Portugal 1-0 Sweden, Postiga, 5 mins.
8'—Sweden immediately attack from the restart and find space through some decent work from Alex Kacaniklic. He switches the ball to Lustig, who crosses into Ibrahimovic. The big Swede tries a spectacular scissor kick, but his effort sails well wide.
12'—A tight midfield battle ensues and Kacaniklic tracks back well to stop Joao Moutinho from finding space in the area.
18'—Moutinho receives the ball after Anders Svensson’s sloppy turnover in midfield, but he is clattered to the ground by Rasmus Elm. He slowly returns to his feet and is good to carry on.
25'—Olsson’s cross into the box finds nobody. Sweden continue to struggle with getting significant numbers into Portugal's half.
28'—Ronaldo bashes his way through the middle and passes to Miguel Veloso on the edge of the area. Sweden recover the ball.
35'—Both teams enjoy a spell of possession before a fantastic sliding challenge from Elm halts Raul Meireles as he heads into the Swedish box.
41'—Vieirinha cuts in from the flank and is desperately stopped by the visitors’ defence. Joao Pereira retains possession and pings the ball around with Veloso and Fabio Coentrao.
The Real Madrid defender finds Meireles free on the edge of the box, who shifts to his right foot and launches a shot past the block of Mikael Antonsson. Isaksson reacts slowly as the ball sails into the bottom right-hand corner.
Portugal 2-0 Sweden, Meireles, 41 mins.
45'—Portugal end the half with a spring in their step. Ronaldo tries a flip-flap inside the area but is tackled just as the half-time whistle goes.
Halftime Score: Portugal 2-0 Sweden
46'—Sweden start brightly as Johan Elmander finds Kacaniklic in the box. He is easily tackled.
49'—Meireles strolls into the Swedish area without facing a tackle. He jinks to his other foot once more and fires a shot straight at Isaksson.
51'—Smart play from Svensson sees Olsson find space on the left. He crosses to Ibrahimovic, who heads narrowly wide.
Kim Kallstrom on for Svensson, 52 mins.
54'—A pinpoint pass from Meireles, who is having a stunning match, sets Vieirinha free on the wing. He turns away from the defence and crosses to Ronaldo. Sweden’s sleeping defence allow the Portuguese captain into the area with acres of room.
He controls with one touch and smashes beyond Isaksson.
Portugal 3-0 Sweden, Ronaldo, 54 mins.
Silvestre Varela on for Vieirinha, 60 mins.
Erkan Zengin on for Larsson, 63 mins.
63'—Another moment of lacklustre defending from the away team, who sit and watch as Portugal break into the box. Isaksson makes an important save from Postiga’s low shot before Olson sticks out a leg to block Varela from taking advantage of an open goal.
Amorim for Meireles, 64 mins.
65'—The hosts maintain pressure from the resulting corner. Ibrahimovic clears the cross with a header, but the ball drops straight to Moutinho, who lashes a first-time volley at Isaksson.
Sweden’s stopper pushes behind for another corner, which Moutinho lofts onto the head of Pepe. He crashes a header off the post and into the net.
Portugal 4-0 Sweden, Pepe, 65 mins.
76'—A lull in play is ended as Zengin finds the run of Kallstrom, who passes straight to Ibrahimovic inside Portugal’s box. The Paris Saint-Germain striker doesn’t even take a touch to settle himself before smashing into the net. A lifeline for the Swedes.
Portugal 4-1 Sweden, Ibrahimovic, 76 mins.
Oliveira for Postiga, Tobias Hysen for Kacaniklic, 79 mins.
81'—Suddenly a little bit of belief arises in Sweden’s play, as they pass with real purpose and rhythm. Lustig and Kallstrom combine down the right but can’t get a cross away.
88'—Ronaldo bombs to the corner and slows down proceedings. Amorim takes over and crosses into Oliveira, who wallops a left-footed volley wide from the penalty spot.
Final Score: Portugal 4-1 Sweden
|Portugal Starting XI||Rating||Sweden Starting XI||Rating|
|Rui Patricio||5.9||Andrea Isaksson||5.4|
|Fabio Coentrao||6.6||Martin Olsson||5.8|
|Bruno Alves||6.3||Per Nilsson||5.2|
|Joao Pereira||6.5||Mikael Lustig||6.5|
|Raul Meireles||7.3 (MOTM)||Rasmus Elm||6.4|
|Miguel Veloso||6.6||Anders Svensson||5.7|
|Joao Moutinho||6.6||Alex Kacaniklic||5.8|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||7.1||Sebastian Larsson||4.5|
|Helder Postiga||6.7||Johan Elmander||6.4|
|Ruben Amorim||6.1||Kim Kallstrom||6.3|
|Silvestre Varela||5.9||Erkan Zengin||6.1|
|Nelson Oliveira||N/A||Tobias Hysen||N/A|
|6||Shots on Target||1|
|53 percent||Possession||47 percent|
Sweden vs. Portugal, World Cup Playoff Second Leg
1'—Elmander is booked for a rough challenge on Ronaldo. Sweden working quickly and looking to attack.
6'—A fantastic interlinking move sees Elmander poke the ball toward Ibrahimovic. He is one-on-one with Rui Patricio, but shoots wide. So close!
10'—Ronaldo gets his first sight of goal and powers a shot at Isaksson, who pushes out for a corner. Ibrahimovic heads the set piece away.
13'—The Swedish defense hound Ronaldo as he looks to shoot once more. This time, his effort flies wide of goal.
16'—Kacaniklic threads a pacey through ball to Elmander, who can’t quite get a toe on it. He is fouled one yard outside the penalty box by Pepe.
Ibrahimovic dummies over the free kick and Sebastian Larsson curls over the bar. Another let off for Portugal.
19'—Ronaldo slips Vieirinha in but the winger's first touch is poor. He stretches a tame effort into the onrushing Isaksson, who fails to gather. Sweden eventually clear.
26'—A speedy counterattack sees Vieirinha dink the ball over to Ronaldo, who easily beats Isaksson with a controlled shot.
Sweden 0-1 Portugal (1-5 on agg), Ronaldo, 26 mins.
30'—Sweden once again look sharp until the final third. Larsson rolls the ball into Lustig, who is offside on the right wing.
39'—It just isn’t happening for the home side. Ibrahimovic drops deep to retrieve the ball but his pass to Elmander is overpowered. Larsson then plays an excellent through ball to Elm, who doesn’t have the speed to cross. Goal kick.
45'—A late Svensson shot sails over the bar.
Halftime Score: Sweden 0-1 Portugal (Portugal lead 5-1 on aggregate)
49'—Portugal doubling up on Lustig down the right. The Swedish defender wins a throw and eventually crosses to Ibrahimovic. His attempt trickles wide.
54'—Sweden attack down the right once more and Larsson plays a pinpoint cross to Ibrahimovic, who outjumps and places his header beyond Rui Patricio.
Sweden 1-1 Portugal (2-5 on agg), Ibrahimovic, 54 mins.
63'—Portugal finally up the ante and attack through Ronaldo down the left. He bombs into the box and crashes an excellent header against the post. With Isaksson stranded, Vieirinha taps in.
Sweden 1-2 Portugal (2-6 on agg), Vierinha, 63 mins.
Kallstrom for Svensson, Amorim for Meireles, 64 mins.
64 mins—Zlatan wins another battle in the air and drops the ball to Elmander, who really should finish from 12 yards out.
Zengin for Larsson, Nani for Vieirinha 68 mins.
74'—Nani speeds into the area and holds the ball up for Postiga. He tees his colleague up on the penalty spot for a simple finish, but Antonsson blocks for a corner. Sweden easily defend the kick.
83'—Neat work from Postiga provides Amorim with a difficult header, Isaksson catches without trouble.
Pontus Wernbloom for Elm, Nelson Oliveira for Positga, 89 mins.
90'—Portugal end the tie with one final attack. Nelson Oliveira’s shot is deflected toward Isaksson. The keeper punts upfield and the final whistle blows.
Final Score: Sweden 1-2 Portugal (Portugal win 6-2 on aggregate).
|Sweden Starting XI||Rating||Portugal Starting XI||Rating|
|Andrea Isaksson||6.6||Rui Patricio||5.6|
|Martin Olsson||6.6||Fabio Coentrao||6.4|
|Per Nilsson||6.2||Bruno Alves||6.5|
|Mikael Lustig||6.6||Joao Pereira||6.9|
|Rasmus Elm||7.0||Raul Meireles||6.4|
|Anders Svensson||6.1||Miguel Veloso||6.5|
|Alex Kacaniklic||6.3||Joao Moutinho||6.9|
|Sebastian Larsson||6.8||Cristiano Ronaldo||7.2 (MOTM)|
|Johan Elmander||6.4||Helder Postiga||6.0|
|Kim Kallstrom||6.2||Ruben Amorim||5.4|
|Pontus Wernbloom||N/A||Nelson Oliveira||N/A|
|1||Shots on Target||6|
|51 percent||Possession||49 percent|
Well, there we have it. An immensely dominant display from the Portuguese that sees the nation comfortably advance across two legs.
Which nation will advance to the 2014 World Cup?
Although Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic scored in each match, it was the former who had a greater impact on results. Unfortunately for Zlatan, a missed header in either match and a golden chance during the first five minutes of the second leg could have dramatically changed the scoreline.
Elsewhere, standout performances from Meireles and Elm captured the attention. Portugal advance to the World Cup, but do you agree with the result?
Let us know in the comments section below.