Sweden, or "The Mighty Zlatan Plus 10 Insignificant Mortals," are hosting Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in Stockholm on Tuesday, aiming to overcome a 1-0 deficit from the first leg of their World Cup play-off.
The Swedes are pulling out all the stops to make sure they gain home advantage. The roof at the not-very-intimidating-sounding Friends Arena will be open, meaning Paulo Bento's visiting side will have to tolerate temperatures of 20°F (-6°C) and a 50% chance of snow. (The disadvantage of this arrangement, of course, is that the Scandinavians will also have to play in the bitter cold, and much of the crowd noise at the arena will be lost to the ether.)
Multi-platinum Scandinavian singer/songwriter Markoolio has also been doing his bit to aid the Blågult, by staging a "concert" at 7.15am outside Portugal's hotel in an attempt to disrupt their sleep patterns with insulting rapping in a language they don't understand.
It's a wonderful plan — and one that was also used by Algeria fans to welcome the Burkino Faso team in the early hours of Tuesday morning — but the timing seems a little puzzling. Staging the racket at 7.15am makes it more like a convenient wake-up call than a horrendous sleep disruption.
Other plans to stop Cristiano Ronaldo from achieving his World Cup dream at the Friends Area include lining the pitch with distracting mirrors, making the entire Swedish team wear rubber Sepp Blatter masks for the duration of the match and displaying this image on the jumbo screens:
- - - - - - -