This Friday sees Portugal and Sweden clash in the first-leg of the World Cup Qualifier play-offs, bringing together two of the finest players on the planet. Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and the Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic come head-to-head for a place in Brazil next summer. In an ideal footballing world, both of them would be there next year. Unfortunately one will miss, but which individual deserves to be there? We examine both cases.
RONALDO vs IBRAHIMOVIC – WHO SHOULD GO TO BRAZIL 2014 WORLD CUP ?
Ronaldo has been in sensational form this season, particularly in contrast to that of his La Liga counterpart Lionel Messi. The Real Madrid forward has scored 27 goals for club and country in 19 appearances so far, netting four hat-tricks along the way. His last hat-trick came in Madrid’s 5-1 win over Real Sociedad on Saturday, making him the top goal scorer in the Spanish Primera. The 28-year-old is also the top goal scorer in the Champions League with 8 goals, scoring in every game of the competition so far – which is remarkable considering Los Blancos are in a group with Juventus, Galatasaray and Copenhagen.
The Portuguese captain has 43 goals in 107 appearances for his country and is undoubtedly the star man. If Portugal are to have any chance of qualifying for the World Cup, they’ll be looking to the former-Manchester United forward to produce the goods. Ronaldo’s performances over the past year have seen him nominated for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award yet another time. Messi has pipped the Madrid man to the title the past two years running, with Ronaldo scooping the prize back in 2008. He’s 3.80 to win again this year.
Like Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic is the captain and talisman for his country. In his 94 appearances for Sweden, the 32-year-old has scored 46 times. So far this season, the Paris Saint-Germain striker has scored 17 goals in 19 appearances for club and country and Ibrahimovic scored a hat-trick of his own at the weekend against Nice. The towering forward has also scored seven goals in the Champions League this season, four of which came against Anderlecht in Belgium.
Ibrahimovic is one of the biggest characters in world football. His newly released autobiography sheds light on some strange events in his career such as: sacking his agent after being linked with Southampton and clashing with former-Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola. The Malmo-born forward has won league titles for Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and at his current club PSG. His 30 league goals, the best in Ligue 1 that season, helped his club win their first title in 19 years – adding a tenth league title medal to Ibrahimovic’s collection (including the two revoked in the Calciopoli scandal). He scores magnificent goals week in, week out, making opposition defenders look useless. The World Cup next year could be his last chance to perform at the tournament, which would be poorer without him.
No matter who goes through to the World Cup from the play-offs, it’s a shame neither of them can both be there. The biggest stage in world football deserves players of their quality, but who do you think should be there? Give Your Views in the comments…