Introducing Zlatan Ibrahimovic to a Barcelona side fresh from winning a treble, talk about a match made in heaven – right?
Of course, things didn’t quite work out that way. Ibrahimovic’s time in Catalunya was marred by arguments with Pep Guardiola and his failure to reach the goal scoring feats he achieved with Inter Milan.
The situation was made all the more painful by the fact Samuel Eto’o, who moved in the other direction in the £59 million transfer, ended the season with another treble under the wing of Jose Mourinho at the San Siro.
It took just one season for Ibrahimovic to be booted out of the Nou Camp, moving to AC Milan first on loan and then on a permanent basis in 2011.
The 36-year-old ended what had looked to be his dream move with – by his standards – a relatively poor goal tally of just 21 and a customary La Liga crown.
His difficulties in Barcelona were no more apparent than during the trip to Real Zaragoza in March 2010. Guardiola’s men were closing in on the title after just one La Liga defeat all season and gave Ibrahimovic the nod up top.
He started alongside Lionel Messi and, frankly, there was only star in Barcelona’s attack that day.
Messi reminded the footballing world exactly what he was all about with an astonishing hat-trick at the La Romareda, including a mesmeric solo strike for his second.
Meanwhile, Ibrahimovic couldn’t hit a barn door from the penalty spot as he threw away a number of opportunities to put the game to bed.
With seven minutes left on the clock it nearly proved costly, too. Zaragoza rallied to score twice and set up a grandstand finish with the home side searching for an equaliser.
Thankfully for Barca, their blushes were spared when Messi – the club penalty taker – won a spot kick after being felled in the area. More than aware of Ibrahimovic’s struggle that day, he then proceeded to selflessly hand the responsibility to his teammate.
Check out the match and moment below:
A great number of players would, if anything, have kept the ball from Ibrahimovic after his finishing that day but Messi was rewarded for both his trust and generosity.
His Swedish strike partner lashed the spot kick home in the very manner you would have expected him to take his one-on-one attempts.
In the Cristiano Ronaldo camp or not, you’ve just got to love the ever-humble Messi.
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