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

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - Front Page -

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.

CRIS­TIANO RON­ALDO

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.

CHILE

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.

Manaus

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