Wilfried Zaha, Leon Osman, Carl Jenkinson, Steven Gerrard and ceremonial caps were the talk before the England vs. Sweden game on Wednesday, November 14th. But, by the match’s conclusion, there was only one name on any football fans lips: Zlatan Ibrahimovic.With a career spanning five clubs, three countries and nine titles in 11 seasons, it’s bizarre that Ibrahimovic’s critics were still in full force before the game at Sweden’s new Friends Arena.
His services have cost some of Europe’s biggest clubs well over £100m, yet still his quality is in doubt. now I’m no advocator of judging a player on how much he cost, I mean Andy Carroll cost Liverpool £35m and we all know how that went, but it takes a hell of a player to force the huge clubs Ibra has played for to part with such vast swathes of cash.
Nevertheless, on Wednesday night, all of the giant Swedes’ critics were silenced as the Swedish captain lead his national side to an inspired 4-2 victory over an inexperienced England squad.
The pièce de résistance of his outstanding performance though was a touch of class, helped out by some truly abysmal goalkeeping. A bicycle kick from outside of the penalty area, which put into stark perspective how poor England’s defending had been in the closing minutes, as well as the sheer quality of Zlatan.
It seemed fitting that on the day where Sweden opened their new stadium, their national treasure, the winner of Sweden’s Player of the Year for the last five years, was to take centre stage.
Ibrahimovic showed the quality which he has been showing in Serie A and Ligue 1 for the last decade. His movement, technique and finishing were all sublime as he made mincemeat of Stoke captain, Ryan Shawcross, who was making his international debut.
He may not charge about the pitch harrying defenders and making a general nuisance of himself like Luis Suarez or Wayne Rooney (when he plays as a central striker) but, when it comes down to technical ability and the ability to be in the right place at the right time, there really have been few better in Europe in the last decade.
When Ibrahimovic was asked about his wonder strike, his answer was: “It was a nice goal.” Such is the Ibrahimovic way. He knows he is good and last night he showed just how good he is with his four goals.
In France’s Ligue 1, Ibrahimovic is leading the goalscoring charts with ten goals for Paris Saint Germain, nother example of the class which the Swedish talisman is oozing at the moment.
Ibrahimovic’s critics may say that he is lazy and doesn’t put himself about enough. Watch the way Ibra holds up play and finishes off moves, then you’ll see the true quality of one of Europe’s greatest marksmen.Tweet