SORRY ZLATAN! WORLD CUP WILL STILL BE A BIG NOISE
CHRIS DUNLAVY charts ten reasons why Ibrahimovich’s great sulk is just so much wasted angst
SWEDEN star Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t be watching the World Cup. And he doesn’t think you should either. “One thing is for sure,” said the madcap striker after a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick gave Portugal a 3-2 win in last month’s play-off.
“A World Cup without Zlatan is nothing to watch so it is not worthwhile to wait for the World Cup.”
This, of course, came just days after he was asked whether Brazil would be poorer without Zlatan or Ronaldo.
“Zlatan, of course,” he said, with characteristic modesty. “I do things with the ball that no other player can.”
With opinions like that, I’m pretty devastated he won’t be there. Football needs more players who talk in the third person and liken themselves to God.
But one player does not a World Cup make. So here are ten reasons why next summer’s World Cup in Brazil will be worth watching – even without Zlatan.
YES, Zlatan’s nemesis himself. Often accused of failing to produce for Portugal the stat-busting scoring feats of his saunter through La Liga, Ronny gave a perma-tanned finger to the critics with all four goals in the two-legged play-off v Sweden.
And he’s hardly let his country down. But for his 47 goals in 109 games, they might not even have qualified for the last few tournaments.
The fact is, Portugal are a bunch of bang-average divers carried single-handedly by one superstar
ith 226 goals in less than five seasons for Real Madrid, the guy is a machine. Less graceful than Messi, less charismatic than Zlatan, but when it comes to putting the ball in the net, has there ever been anyone more ruthless? Surely not.
At 28, Ronaldo is at his peak. By the time Russia 2018 rolls round he’ll be 33. This, then, represents his last chance to make a World Cup his own. For a man who loves himself as much as Ron, there is no greater motivation.
If his team mates pull their fingers out, We could be talking about Ronaldo 2014 the same way we remember Maradona in ’86.
OK, so they were only playing England. But how good where the Chileans? They swarmed all over us like tiny Inca ants, and in Alexis Sanchez have a bloke in the form of his life. And remember, that was on a cold night in England. Then there’s Gary Medel, the Cardiff hardman. This a guy who has been tazered by police, sent off seven times in two years, arrested almost as many times and survived flying through his windscreen in a car crash.
“If people want to fight, I fight,” he said. “But I’m a nice kind of crazy.” Disappointingly tame in a Cardiff shirt so far, a high-pressure match for Chile should bring out Medel’s ‘nice’ side.
GAMES IN MANAUS
Woe betide the poor Europeans who get stuck playing games at the arse end of the Amazon.
With an average temperature of 34 degrees and humidity somewhere around 85 per cent, you’d probably feel more comfortable playing in a sauna. Paris in the springtime it certainly ain’t.
The games will be awful, but I’m looking forward to scarlet-faced Russians staggering around, the heat driving them into a senseless rage – a bit like John Aldridge and Jack Charlton in 1994.