There’s no love lost between Sweden and Denmark so Saturday’s Euro 2016 play-off in Stockholm is set to be a feisty affair and the perfect stage for star man Zlatan Ibrahimovic to show exactly why he’s as good as he says he is.
This Scandinavian derby pits two teams with the exact same records in the qualifying groups – both teams recording three wins, two draws and two defeats.
Zlatan scored seven of Sweden’s 11 last goals and the 34-year-old has already been celebrating this week having been named Sweden’s player of the year for a record tenth time, and ninth year in a row, and his modesty, humility and humble nature has again been the source of much headline making.
‘I put France on the map’
In particular, his claim that his goal scoring prowess for PSG has put France – the first nation to ever be simultaneous World Cup winners and European Champions – on the footballing map.
Speaking ahead of the match against Denmark, Zlatan said: “I would love to play at the European Championship in France.
“I have played there for four years [for PSG]. I have put Sweden on the map and now I have put France on the world map too.”
Given his 34 years, France 2016 is likely to be the Mighty Mouth’s last chance to play at a major international tournament. However, the nine goals he has scored in 11 Ligue 1 matches this season is inspiring Zlatan to confound sceptics who have the temerity to suggest his best days may be behind him.
“I have better statistics than before,” said Zlatan. “So if I’m old and getting weak and still doing what I do, imagine if I was good and young. What would I do then?”
The €200 million man
There is no doubt of his talents and Denmark – as well as the top online football tipsters – will be more than aware of what Zlatan, on his day, can do.
It is the reason he has played for some of the world’s biggest teams – Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and now PSG – with the clubs paying a combined €200 million for his services.
This year Zlatan won a historic domestic treble with PSG and last month he became the Ligue 1 side’s all time record goal scorer thanks to two first half penalties against championship rivals Marseille that took his tally to 110, eclipsing Pauleta’s record.
He is already Sweden’s record goal scorer but he has never scored against Denmark. “It doesn’t mean anything,” was his response to questions about his duck against the Danes. “There will be goals when there is goals. If we create chances they’ll turn up.”
‘Always something special’
Denmark coach Morten Olsen has already indicated he will step down after the Euro 2016 campaign but will be hoping it will be a case of ‘au revoir’ rather than the Danish ‘farvel.’
With the second leg in Copenhagen being played on Tuesday night, Olsen said: “It pleases me that we get the opportunity to decide it all at home.
“Deciding it all in front of your own crowd is always something special.”
By: Joe Cahal