Belgium defender Jan Vertonghen is desperate to end Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden career when they lock horns in their decisive Group E encounter on Wednesday.
Veteran striker Ibrahimovic announced earlier on Tuesday that he will retire from international football after Euro 2016 and Vertonghen is keen for that to happen at the Stade de Nice.
Sweden sit third in the group heading into the game and need a win to avoid a premature exit against Belgium, who are second with three points.
“I hope it will be Ibra’s last game for Sweden,” Vertonghen said at a news conference.
“I have a lot of respect for him and for his career. I remember Ibra from when I joined Ajax. He was a top player for Ajax.
“I think Sweden will fight for their last chance, and not necessarily for Zlatan. I have nothing but respect for him.
“But we hope to end his Sweden career. He has had a big career, but I am selfish now and won’t think about his Sweden career.”
Ibrahimovic stated that he expects to get more space against Belgium than versus Italy on matchday two, when Sweden lost 1-0, but Vertonghen is confident they can contain the former Paris Saint-Germain striker.
He said: “Italy play with five defenders, while we play with four. We are more offensive than Italy, but that does not necessarily mean Sweden will create more chances.
“We are confident they will not get a lot of space if we play our own game. We want to play like we did against Ireland. We didn’t afford them many chances and scored a number of goals.
“I think we were very strong defensively against Ireland. That’s not just down to the goalkeeper and defenders, but we defended as a unit. We want to replicate that.
“We have a solid basis as a team. Some players have really risen to the occasion. We lost against Italy, but we didn’t afford them a lot of chances. We have really grown. We have a lot of confidence.”
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