Wednesday 22 November 2017

Ibrahimovic not only threat for Swedes -- Loew

Germany hope to extend their perfect record in the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup when they face Sweden in Frankfurt tonight despite the towering presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker has 11 goals in 12 matches this season and Sweden, like Germany, have a 100pc record so far.

With only the group winners qualifying automatically, German coach Joachim Loew was careful to point out that Sweden were not a one-man team.

"Sweden is not only Zlatan Ibrahimovic," said Loew. "He is their key player, but they also function as a team very well. Iit's difficult to score against them."

Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira is nursing a hamstring injury and could miss the match. If he is unable to play, Toni Kroos could start. He scored twice in the 6-1 hammering of Ireland.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill has set his players the unenviable task of ensuring Cristiano Ronaldo's big day proves a damp squib at the Dragao Stadium. The Portugal forward will win his 100th cap in tonight's Group F qualifier.

O'Neill has decisions to make in midfield, where the absence of injured trio Chris Brunt, Shane Ferguson and Grant McCann will be felt particularly keenly. Paddy McCourt is among those hoping for a call-up.

Meanwhile, skipper Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson, James Milner, Ashley Cole and Jermain Defoe are all expected to return for England's Group H date with Poland in Warsaw.

Irish Independent

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