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Bento wary of Ibrahimovic ahead playoff clash
Bento wary of Ibrahimovic ahead playoff clash

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Bento wary of Ibrahimovic ahead playoff clash

Portugal coach Paulo Bento has claimed his team must shut down Sweden to avoid "extraordinary" striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic putting his club to the sword on Friday.

The two-legged World Cup qualifying playoff between the European nations has been billed as a battle between Ibrahimovic and Seleccao forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ahead of the first leg in Lisbon, Bento has warned his team that it cannot afford to simply focus on the Paris Saint-Germain superstar, but acknowledged the Swede's obvious talent.

"Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a great player, he's also in a great moment with his club, he is extraordinary," Bento told a press conference 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 organization of Sweden and on the top of everything, play our game."

Bento also talked up the ability of Real Madrid forward Ronaldo, defended his record for Portugal and insisted he deserves to take home the upcoming FIFA Ballon d'Or trophy.

"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 added. "Right now, he is exceptional, with us, some time ago against Northern 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 organized and with this he can play in the same way he is playing for Real Madrid. Maybe at other times it would not be a fair win, but it would be unfair for Ronaldo not to win [the Ballon d'Or] this year. Right now he is the best player in the world."

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.

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