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Zlatan: World Cup needs me more than Ronaldo

ESPN staff
November 14, 2013 « Mourinho targets £18m anchorman Imbula | Chartbeat test »
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has stoked the fire ahead of Sweden's World Cup play-off clash with Portugal by stating that fans would rather see him at the 2014 World Cup than Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Paris Saint-Germain talisman has been on sublime form since moving to Ligue 1, but will have to lead Sweden past Portugal and one of the finest players in world football if they are to book a place in Brazil.

The first clash takes place in Lisbon on Friday evening in what is one of the most anticipated of all the World Cup play-offs, with all eyes on either team's captain, who are both candidates to win the Ballon d'Or next month.

But despite acknowledging the talent of Ronaldo, who won the award in 2008, Ibrahimovic is under no illusions who he believes will be the bigger draw for fans in Brazil next summer.

He said: "I think that the World Cup needs Zlatan more than Ronaldo. The excitement I can bring to the game and the goals I can score - nobody can rival me for that. I believe the fans would want to see me there above anybody.

"I respect him as a player - there is no question he is one of the best."

Ibrahimovic's opinions will be divisive among football fans, as Ronaldo is considered by most to be on par with Barcelona's Lionel Messi as the world's best player.

But the Swede admits he will not be losing any sleep if he denies fans the chance to watch Ronaldo on the biggest stage in football.

"The World Cup is the greatest sporting competition in the world - it needs to have the best players," he said.

"If Ronaldo, or Neymar, or Rooney, or Messi, or Xavi is missing then it is a shame for the competition - and it is a shame for the World Cup that one of myself or Ronaldo will not be in Brazil.

"I just need to make sure I do everything over the next two games to make sure that it is him who misses out and not myself."

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