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U21 Group B: Portugal v Sweden preview

Håkan Ericson says Sweden are up for the "difficult but not impossible task" of taking on a Portugal side who promise to be "fine-tuned and ready" for their Group B decider.

Rui Jorge prepares Portugal to face Sweden
Rui Jorge prepares Portugal to face Sweden ©Sportsfile

Rui Jorge says Portugal are 'fine-tuned and ready' to qualify
Sweden coach Håkan Ericson preparing to meet tournament's 'best attacking team'
Portugal not reached semis since 2004
• Sweden progressed from previous two group stages in 2004 and 2009
Both sides at full strength with semi-final qualification on the line

How it stands
Portugal will be through with a win or a draw and would also progress if they lost and England drew with Italy in a game being played simultaneously in Olomouc.

Sweden will progress with a victory, while a draw would be enough only if Italy beat England in the other game. If they lose and England win, then they would be in an Olympic play-off. A more detailed breakdown of the permutations can be found here.

Possible lineups
Portugal: José Sá; Ricardo Esgaio, Raphael Guerreiro, Paulo Oliveira, Tiago Ilori; William Carvalho, Sérgio Oliveira, João Mário; Bernardo Silva, Gonçalo Paciência, Ricardo
Misses next match if booked: Joao Mario Eduardo, Gonçalo Paciência, Bernardo Silva

Sweden: Carlgren; Lindelöf, Baffo, Milošević, Augustinsson; Khalili, Lewicki, Hiljemark, Hrgota; Guidetti, Kiese Thelin
Misses next match if booked: Baffo, Guidetti, Helander, Hiljemark, Khalili

Rui Jorge, Portugal coach
The most important thing is to qualify for the next stage of the competition, not to top the group. In Portugal there was a belief in the past that Sweden players were tall, blond and not as good technically but that has changed. They are still tall and blond, for sure, but now they have a lot of quality. Their players may not be as technically refined as ours but they possess good passing ability, they're good at receiving the ball and quite strong up front.

I'm expecting to face a team that will play a classic 4-4-2, with a very compact midfield and two forwards who can cause us a lot of problems with their pace and strength. We have come a long way and it would be impossible both for me and the players not to have the ambition to be successful.

There is one thing that we don't want to happen and that is to reach the dying moments of the match still level; we'll do everything in our power to prevent that from happening.

I still haven't decided whether we will play 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 but whatever system we use we'll be fine-tuned and ready. Fatigue is a reality for any team here but the will to win is greater than any sign of fatigue and we intend to keep playing like we've done so far.

Håkan Ericson, Sweden coach
We've been preparing very well, in the best condition we could in the time we have between games. We are meeting the team with the best attack we've seen in these opening games. So it's a difficult but not impossible task that we have in front of us.

Our players feel [tired] like the players in Portugal and the other teams. We haven't had a lot of preparation time and have had to adjust our training sessions. I had a feeling that some of the players were very tired against England, but some of them really surprised me and they are in a good physical and mental state.

We know a lot about the Portugal team, their strengths and weaknesses and about some of the fantastic players that they have. We've only lost two games – in the 86th minute against England and away to France [in the play-off, and since November 2013] – so that gives us a lot of confidence but we are also humble and have respect for our opponents. We think that we have the opportunity to beat them and that is totally clear from my side.

Form guide
Last five games (most recent first): DWLDL
Qualifying top scorer: Ricardo (5)

Last five games (most recent first): LWDWW
Qualifying top scorer: Guidetti, Kiese Thelin (4)

Senior internationals in squad (caps)
Portugal: William Carvalho (13), João Mário (3), Rafa Silva (3), Raphael Guerreiro (2), Ivan Cavaleiro (2), Paulo Oliveira (1), Ricardo Horta (1), Bernardo Silva (1)

Sweden: Oscar Hiljemark (6), Isaac Kiese Thelin (5), Robin Quaison (5), Oscar Lewicki (4), Alexander Milošević (4), Branimir Hrgota (3), Ludwig Augustinsson (2), John Guidetti (2), Simon Gustafson (2), Sebastian Holmén (2), Mikael Ishak (2)

Match fact
What happened when Sweden and Portugal met twice at the 2004 finals in Germany? Find out in our match background.

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