THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
STOCKHOLM, Sweden — Bruised by its loss to Mexico in the Olympic final, Brazil begins its journey to the 2014 World Cup with a friendly against Sweden.
The match — the last to be played at Stockholm’s Rasunda stadium — offers a chance for coach Mano Menezes to return home from Europe on the back of a win.
The Brazilian football federation hinted before the Olympics that a disappointing result in London could cost Menezes his job, but a decision is not expected until the team returns to Brazil later this week.
Brazil is bringing most of the players in the squad that lost the final 2-1 to Mexico, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a doubt for the Swedes. The Paris Saint-Germain striker’s right foot is swollen after a knock during the team’s French league opener Saturday against Lorient.
"We haven’t made a decision yet. We’ll have to see how it develops," Ibrahimovic said Tuesday.
"It’s of course special to play Brazil," he said. "Everyone wants to play them. They have some of the world’s best players. Also as a team they are one of the best in the world."
Sweden coach Erik Hamren on Tuesday called up striker Tobias Hysen as a late addition to the squad.
"I hope that everyone is healthy and available to play in Wednesday’s match, including Zlatan, but we don’t want to take any unnecessary risks with any player and we don’t want to be one man short on the bench," Hamren said.
For some in the Brazil team, the disappointment of losing the gold medal match has started to fade.
"Life goes on. I am satisfied with the Olympics and we won a silver medal after all and I’m happy that I was there," said forward Neymar.
Wednesday’s friendly is a farewell bid to Rasunda, an aging stadium that hosted the 1958 World Cup final between Brazil and Sweden. Several of the players from both squads will be present, including Pele, who scored two goals as Brazil won 5-2 to clinch its first of five World Cup titles.
"It’s going to be a special match," Neymar said. "Many great players have played there, not least our own team that won the 1958 World Cup there. Although I don’t have any memories of that, I wasn’t even born."
Rasunda is set to be demolished as the Swedish national team adopts a new stadium being built nearby as its main hub.
Most of Brazil’s Olympic squad is in Stockholm, though Paulo Henrique Ganso, Bruno Uvini and left back Marcelo are missing. The latter was ruled out because he was sent off in Brazil’s latest friendly. Thiago Silva, Ibrahimovic’s PSG teammate, joined the Brazil squad in Stockholm.
Sweden is missing injured midfielder Kim Kallstrom and winger Emir Bajrami, who will be replaced by Alexander Kacaniklic of Fulham in his first call-up to the national team.