Skip to main content

Bento: Portugal can't solely focus on Zlatan

The two-legged World Cup qualifying playoff between Portugal and Sweden has been billed as a battle between Ibrahimovic and Bento's star forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ahead of Friday's first leg in Lisbon, Bento has warned his team they cannot afford to simply focus on Ibrahimovic and must shut down the way Sweden play so the visitors cannot get the ball to the Paris Saint-Germain striker.

"Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a great player, he's also in a great moment with his club, he has excellent ability," Bento said on Thursday.

"For us, to try and stop this player we have to make a collective effort and not just be aware of the individual.

"We need to understand the organisation of Sweden and on the top of everything, play our game."

Ibrahimovic has scored 15 goals in 17 games for PSG so far this season, while Ronaldo has notched 24 in 17 for Real Madrid in Spain.

Ironically, Ronaldo's form for Portugal is not so strong, as the 28-year-old winger failed to score in six of his country's eight matches in Europe's World Cup qualifying Group F, as they finished second behind Russia.

But Bento remains confident he can get the best out of Ronaldo.

"I think it is natural that sometimes the performance is not the same for the national team compared to the club," the 44-year-old coach said.

"Right now, he is exceptional, with us, some time ago in Ireland (in September when Ronaldo struck a hat-trick) he was sensational and we count on his skills and motivation.

"We will have to be organised and with this he can play in the same way he is playing for Real Madrid."