BERLIN: Sweden and Paraguay enter Thursday's World Cup Group B match desperate for a victory realising that a loss is a virtual ticket home. Paraguay lost its opener 1-0 to England, while Sweden swarmed over 10-man Trinidad & Tobago only to come away with a 0-0 draw.
While Sweden could advance to the Round of 16 with another draw and a win against England, the Scandinavians are looking for nothing but three points against the South Americans.
"We must win, it's very simple," Juventus striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said. "But Paraguay has a very good team, so we must be focused and 100 per cent concentrated."
To win, Sweden must score and that's something Ibrahimovic has not done for the team in 263 minutes. "But I'm not worried, because we have `Henke,'" he said, referring to Henrik Larsson.
Larsson, who set up both goals in Barcelona's 2-1 win over Arsenal in the Champions League final last month, scored for Sweden in a 1-1 draw with Chile the day before the squad left for Germany.
The other player in Sweden's `Big Three,' Fredrik Ljungberg, has not scored in 435 minutes. But the Arsenal midfielder always has been more of a provider than a goalscorer.
"I'm convinced that we'll score against Paraguay if we create as many chances as we did against Trinidad," Ljungberg said. "But of course our game plan will be a bit different because Paraguay plays a bit different from Trinidad."
In qualifying, Ibrahimovic, Larsson and Ljungberg accounted for 20 of Sweden's 30 goals the highest scoring average of any team in European qualifying.
Paraguay believes that it must abandon its defensive style to win and remain in contention for a second-round berth. "The worse that could happen to us is getting desperate if minutes pass and we do not score," said striker Roque Santa Cruz. "We have to keep calm, be aware of our own resources, and not be thinking of the rival all the time as we did when we played England."
Striker Nelson Haedo says nothing less than a win will satisfy Paraguay. "I see this as a final, and we have to win if we want to reach the next round without depending on what others do. We will be forced to change our tactics and attack, as we did in the second half against England," he said.
The Paraguayans expect more room against Sweden than they had against England. "With Sweden, one can play more openly and probably our strikers will have more freedom to move forward," defender Denis Caniza said.
Coach Anibal Ruiz confirmed that he is devising a game plan based on "trying to generate a more offensive play."
While Paraguay goalkeeper Jacinto Villar is out for the rest of the tournament after tearing a muscle in his right thigh in the opener, his counterpart Andreas Isaksson has recovered from a concussion that forced him to miss the first game and he could be back in goal on Thursday.
Likely line-ups: Sweden: 1-Andreas Isaksson, 2-Mikael Nilsson, 3-Olof Mellberg, 4-Teddy Lucic, 5-Erik Edman, 6-Tobias Linderoth, 9-Fredrik Ljungberg, 21-Christian Wilhelmsson, 16-Kim Kallstrom, 10-Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 11-Henrik Larsson. Coach: Lars Lagerback.
Paraguay: 22-Aldo Bobadilla, 21-Denis Caniza, 5-Julio Cesar Caceres, 4-Carlos Gamarra, 2-Jorge Nunez, 6-Carlos Bonet, 10-Roberto Acuna, 13-Carlos Paredes, 16-Cristian Riveros, 9-Roque Santa Cruz, 18-Nelson Haedo Valdez. Coach: Anibal Ruiz.
Referee: Lubos Michel (Slovakia). Agencies