Soccer Picks: Sweden vs. Portugal World Cup Qualifier

Nila Amerova

Monday, November 18, 2013 3:31 PM GMT

Sweden and Portugal will decide their World Cup fortunes this week. Here’s a primer on this epic battle complete with free soccer picks for your consideration.

Sweden at the marginal disadvantage

Sweden enters the second leg at the marginal disadvantage across sportsbooks, but so nominal it is to make it a moot point really.

Sweden tipped at + 170 soccer odds to win outright, and are only tipped a hairbreadth away from Portugal at +165 at Bet365. Verdict: it’s still anybody’s game, there for the taking despite Portugal’s edge on the back of the 1:0 victory in Lisbon last week.

The overarching futures market though tells a one-sided story with Portugal listed as the runaway favourites at -350 to qualify for Brazil, while Sweden are listed at rather disingenuous +275 odds. So which sportsbooks are more representative of this coming fixture?

The Superstar Showdown

From the start this billing was billed as a showdown between superstars Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo and so it was with the latter, Portugal’s shiny bauble, to run away trumps in round one.  

A Ronaldo inspired goal lifted Portugal to the slim victory and now Zlatan must answer at the time of asking in Solna. It’s still a winnable tie for the Swedes despite their rather weighty +275 future odds to qualify at Bet365. But they’ll need to take it to Portugal right from early doors.

Undoubtedly, the nation and team heavily rely on Zlatan – not unlike Portugal’s dependency on Ronaldo. On paper, the collective squads are only as good as their iconic strikers, you could say. Both incidentally are listed equally at +140 soccer odds to score first at Bet365.

If there ever were a player capable of carrying a team to victory it would have to be Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Sweden’s golden son upon whose shoulders the nation’s hopes sit and whose reputation as a leader and champion speaks volumes. He’s done it with just about every major team in a major European soccer league and championship.

Sweden vs. Portugal Betting Tips and Picks:

While future odds point to Portugal as the likely winner of this tie the match odds tell a different story. As mentioned above, the difference in price is nominal with Portugal favoured at +165 and Sweden disadvantaged at +170 soccer odds. Such tight sports betting markets make this match extremely difficult to handicap, especially for those neutral bettors. Fans of either team have it easy, go where loyalty lies. 

This near parity continues in various market tiers as well. It’s prevalent in every aspect of the double result market. For example for one or the other side to win both halves odds are listed equally at +333 at Bet365. As well, a draw-Portugal or a draw-Sweden result is listed at +500 and so on.

Bookies favor the Under 2.5 at -150 for this match and it’s understandable given the way the first leg unfolded. Admittedly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was enjoying some of the finest scoring form of his career, was a non-factor in the first leg. Largely down to Pepe who carried out his responsibility to mark the predatory marksman effectively.

Mind you the game overall was rather tight and cagey. Both teams sussing each other out more or less throughout the match that it very nearly ended on a dull scoreless draw, save for Ronaldo’s opportunistic gelled cap butting an 82nd minute goal that propelled Portugal ahead of Sweden in the queue for Brazil. The draw result incidentally if you are so inclined is listed at +225 or thereabouts across sportsbooks.

If Zlatan hopes to win round two of the superstar showdown and deliver on his outstanding credentials, he’ll have to raise his intensity and do more to shake off the pesky Pepe nipping at his heels. If he allows Pepe the luxury of nullifying him again, Sweden’s chances of advancing to Brazil will surely dwindle accordingly. Given the magnitude of the occasion, especially Sweden having their backs against the wall, we should see a completely different game to the first, more goals in which case the Over 2.5 might be more appropriate at +115.

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Soccer Betting Verdict:

It remains to be seen what tactics and strategies each coach will bring to the pitch and how each decides to deal with the respective iconic threat he faces. Without question, collectively Portugal are just a bit stronger than Sweden are and that makes them a good soccer pick to win and advance. That said matches are rarely determined on paper.

They say fortune favors the brave. On that score, what we do know from past experience is that Ronaldo can at times fall short of the mark in big matches. Zlatan on other hand has come up big for his country in recent years, when it was needed most. Well, it’s never been needed more than now.  If this comes down to a battle between the two icons again, Zlatan with Swedish soil firmly under his feet and home fans roaring in the background has to have a bit of an edge and as such we’re plumping down to the home dogs reversing this tie in their favor as our final soccer pick.

May the best man win!

Soccer Free Picks: Sweden to win outright at +170 and to qualify for Brazil at +275; Over 2.5 at +115