Lars Lagerback hopes restricting the amount of space afforded to Cristiano Ronaldo can help Iceland get off to a winning start against Portugal at Euro 2016.
Iceland’s coach faced Ronaldo during his time as Sweden’s national team manager, with his side earning two draws during their unsuccessful qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup.
Ronaldo failed to score in either of those games, and Lagerback hopes strong pressing from Iceland can shut the Real Madrid attacker out of Tuesday’s encounter.
“He’s one of the best players in the world, you can never be confident that you can stop him,” Lagerback told Omnisport.
“He has such a lot of skills, he’s dangerous near the penalty box with his speed both with and without the ball. Inside the box he is good in the air. Then you also have his free-kicks, so you can never be confident.
“But we will have a go. We closed him down pretty well when I played against him with Sweden so I hope we can do the same now.”
Lagerback, who will step down as Iceland’s coach after the tournament, added that Portugal have a “fantastic” team and believes their squad at Euro 2016 is one of their strongest.
“They have a fantastic, good team. I’ve never seen Portugal so good,” he told Omnisport.
“They still have very high individual skills, but I think the coach [Fernando Santos] has done a really great job organising the team. They look much better and much more difficult to play against than I have experienced with Portugal before.”
Iceland are at their first major international tournament, but Lagerback says the top-level experience of veteran striker Eidur Gudjohnsen will help his squad adapt quickly.
“It’s really great to have [Gudjohnsen] here,” Lagerback said. “For the players, he is an intelligent guy. He can help saying things at team meetings.
“For instance, yesterday we had a team meeting, and [he said] the only thing we have to do is give 100 per cent. The main thing is we give 100 per cent and we can go home with pride.”
Lagerback also spoke about his home nation Sweden, describing their captain, free agent Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as the “best through history”.
“If you look upon his record, I can’t compare him today, even if we had some great players through history,” Lagerback told Omnisport.
“What he has achieved winning titles and everything and his individual skills. I would say he’s the best through history.”
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