The European play-offs draw for the World Cup in Brazil next year has been deeply unkind to football connoisseurs.
With Portugal and Sweden playing against each other for just one spot, the greatest stage in football will miss out on the talents of either Cristiano Ronaldo or Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Both these players are world-class and are capable of setting alight the World Cup with their flamboyant skills. The tournament will certainly be missing out whichever of these stars is absent.
Ronaldo has often been regarded as one of the two best players in the world. His performances for Real Madrid have been nothing short of exceptional and his talent alone warrants exposure on the greatest stage of all.
If Lionel Messi was not playing in the same era then he would rightly be crowned the world's
best player many times over. Portugal have often fallen short on the international stage, often flattering to deceive - and unfortunately Ronaldo is placed under pressure to carry the Portuguese side through to major tournaments.
Other players need to take more responsibility so that Brazil is not devoid of such a special talent next summer.
Ronaldo's club statistics speak for themselves. In 533 games he has scored 337 games for Sporting, Manchester United and Real Madrid. His Madrid statistics are much more
impressive: 210 games and 214 goals.
Obviously at international level Ronaldo is less prolific but his performances are no less impressive. He already has106 international caps, scoring 43 goals and often leading by example.
Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic showed England exactly what he could do when he scored all
four goals in Sweden's 4-2 victory last year; his fourth a 35-yard overhead kick.
Although he is playing at Paris Saint-Germain, not at one of the major clubs in Europe at the moment, there is no doubting his talent and his goalscoring record at every club he has played for.
He has graced many of the great European clubs - Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona and Milan. In 541 club games the Swede has scored 271 goals.
Internationally Ibrahimovic has a better record than Ronaldo. He has netted 46 times in 94
appearances. At 32 years of age, though, this may well be Ibrahimovic's last chance to play in the World Cup. It would be a shame for him if he was to miss out.
Unfortunately, though, one of these players will miss out on a trip to Brazil but I suppose that is
the way of football and I am sure a new star will emerge next summer to rival both these players.
Who would you prefer to see playing at the World Cup: Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic?
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