Football

Zlatan: The World Cup needs me, not Ronaldo

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has stoked the fires ahead of Sweden's World Cup play-off clash against Portugal tomorrow by claiming that the tournament 'needs' him in it more than it does Cristiano Ronaldo.

The two heavyweights of European football go head to head in the first leg of the play-off in Portugal tomorrow evening.

With only one able to make it to the finals in Brazil next summer, Ibrahimovic, who goes into the game on the back of a string of excellent performance for Paris Saint-Germain, says he should be the one who makes it, and not Ronaldo.

"I think that the World Cup needs Zlatan more than Ronaldo," said the Swede. "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."

Portugal could only finish second in their qualifying group behind Russia despite the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, while Sweden came runners-up to runaway winners Germany.

Sweden failed to make the last World Cup in 2010, while in that tournament in South Africa Portugal were knocked out by eventual winners Spain.

Despite his desire to stop Portugal and Ronaldo making it to next year's World Cup, Ibrahimovic was full of praise for his rival - and says it is a shame that one of the world's best players has to miss out altogether.

"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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Topics:
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Cristiano Ronaldo

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