As Portugal and Sweden prepare to line up in their World Cup play-off on Friday, LS Sport debates which of their star men they would rather see in Brazil next year.
How good really is Zlatan Ibrahimovic? It might sound odd questioning a player who has played for Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barca, AC Milan and PSG yet the question still largely remains unanswered. Clearly he is an incredibly gifted player – his touch, venomous shot and ego to match all make him undoubtedly one of Europe’s hottest strikers. Not only is he a great goalscorer, he is a scorer of great goals. It seems churlish to name them here but there are several out of this world goals to choose from.
His goal scoring records wherever he plays has proved he is an absolute natural born scorer – in 407 club appearances he has scored a staggering 227 times, averaging just over a goal every other game. Whilst it is hard to deny that he has played for the best teams in the respective leagues, his international record for Sweden, a team that decidedly not in the top tier of international football, is equally impressive with 46 goals in 94 appearances.
In addition to this at 32 years old Ibra is in his prime, realistically it is his last World Cup, at least it’s his last World Cup where a bit of Ibra magic could take Sweden a lot further than most people might think. Should Zlatan take the tournament by storm is it really out of the question to suggest Sweden could walk away World Champions? Perhaps, yet should Sweden overcome Portugal in the qualifier, Ibrahimovic could well rubber stamp his place as one of the greatest strikers of his generation. He’ll almost certainly be a lead candidate for Goal of the Tournament.
His temper is almost as impressive, and certainly as consistent as his goal scoring. Zlatan never seems too far away from the drama. With Ibrahimovic on a plane headed to Rio, the world cup will be anything but a disappointment. At the very least he may serve as a player to watch after the imminent England group stage debacle.
Without a doubt, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are two of the best footballers in the world at the moment. However, Marks and Spencers and Asda are also two of the best in their field, yet we all know which offers the better quality.
Taking a look at some of the remarkable statistics behind Ronaldo’s performances in the last six years, it is obvious why this Ballon d’or winner simply has to be at the World Cup in the summer. In the past five years, since Ronaldo moved to Real Madrid, he has been handed 216 appearances, in which he has scored 225 goals. This consistent level of form is outstanding and a featthat is only beaten by Lionel Messi. In comparison, Ibrahimovic has scored 127 goals in 192 appearances in the last five years. This goes some way to illustrate that if you’re looking for the best World Cup spectacle you can get, Ronaldo is surely the player you want to see on a plane to Brazil next summer.
Anyone who watched Sweden play England this time last year would happily point out the standard of goals that Ibrahimovic can score is enough to show he should be at the World Cup. Yet, as all round performers, I’m not sure Ibrahimovic even comes close to Ronaldo. Constantly criticised for fluttering in and out of games and being lazy, Ibrahimovic doesn’t have that drive to perform all over the field as Ronaldo reliably does for club and country. It is this difference in personality as well as performance is surely the reason you have never sat in a pub with friends and asked who’s better, Zlatan or Messi? The debate that constantly plagues footballing conversation is based on the two best footballers in the world, Messi and Ronaldo. One of them is already at the World Cup, why wouldn’t you want to see the other?
Image courtesy of the Telegraph