No favorite in Portugal-Sweden playoff, says Bento

Reuters
Portugal's national soccer team coach Paulo Bento listens to questions from journalists at Alvalade stadium in Lisbon
.

View photo

Portugal's national soccer team coach Paulo Bento listens to questions from journalists at Alvalade stadium …

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal's World Cup qualifying playoff against Sweden is too close to call with neither side starting as favorite, coach Paulo Bento said on Friday in naming a squad he hopes will secure a place in Brazil next year.

Bento called up uncapped Sporting midfielder William Carvalho and also selected injury doubts Fabio Coentrao and Joao Pereira.

The two-legged clash pits dazzling Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo against Swedish talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Bento predicted a "finely balanced playoff".

"It's going to be very complicated and competitive, there is no favorite between the two teams," he said.

Full backs Coentrao and Pereira will be evaluated on Monday.

"Pereira may be fit to play even before the first playoff match but we will see what happens over the weekend," Bento added.

"On Monday our doctors will do an evaluation and then we make a decision."

The coach praised Angolan-born Carvalho, a tall defensive midfielder who has flourished at Sporting this season.

"His quality and recent performances justified the call, which also has to do with his height which could be an influent aspect in the match," Bento said, alluding to the superior average height of the Swedes.

In attack, Galatasaray's teenage winger Bruma and Braga's Eder were chosen ahead of recent picks Danny and Nelson Oliveira.

Portugal host the first leg at Lisbon's Luz stadium on November 15 (1945 GMT) and travel to Stockholm four days later.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Beto (Sevilla), Rui Patricio (Sporting), Eduardo (Braga).

Defenders: Joao Pereira (Valencia), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Andre Almeida (Benfica), Antunes (Malaga), Fabio Coentrao (Real Madrid), Pepe (Real Madrid), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Luis Neto (Zenit St Petersburg).

Midfielders: Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev), William Carvalho (Sporting), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Ruben Micael (Braga), Josue (Porto).

Forwards: Nani (Manchester United), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Helder Postiga (Valencia), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Eder (Braga), Varela (FC Porto), Bruma (Galatasaray).

(Reporting by Daniel Alvarenga, editing by Justin Palmer)

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Five memorable Liverpool-West Ham matches

      By Toby Davis LONDON (Reuters) - Liverpool, looking to rebound from a dramatic 4-3 defeat at Bournemouth last weekend, face West Ham United, who are just above the relegation zone and licking their wounds following a 5-1 thrashing by Arsenal, on … More »

      Reuters - 1 hour 16 minutes ago
    • Garber has eyes on young star power

      Garber has eyes on young star power

      Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber believes his league is in transition when it comes to star players. ''Without doubt the target is younger players who are coming at the prime of their career or even as they're beginning to establish … More »

      AP - Sports - 1 hour 31 minutes ago
    • Fiorentina, PAOK grab spots in Europa League knockout stage

      Fiorentina, PAOK grab spots in Europa League knockout stage

      BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) -- Fiorentina moved into the knockout stage of the Europa League from the first place in Group J after beating Azerbaijan's Qarabag 2-1 on Thursday. … More »

      AP - Sports - 1 hour 42 minutes ago
    • Moenchengladbach defend club doctors after Dominguez retirement

      Moenchengladbach defend club doctors after Dominguez retirement

      By Richard Martin BARCELONA (Reuters) - Borussia Moenchengladbach's medical staff did everything "humanly possible" to help Alvaro Dominguez, the club's sporting director said on Thursday, following the defender's retirement due to injury. … More »

      Reuters - 2 hours 36 minutes ago
    • Leeds owner Cellino gets 18-month ban and hefty fine

      Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has received an 18-month ban from the Football Association and fined 250,000 pounds ($314,400). The Italian was punished for breaching agent rules over the sale of striker Ross McCormack to Championship rivals … More »

      Reuters - 2 hours 48 minutes ago