The Bigger Miss: Cristiano or Zlatan?

Hurrah, England have made it to next year’s World Cup finals. However, the same cannot yet be said for two of the world’s finest players: Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will go toe-to-toe in the ultimate playoff between Portugal and Sweden next month for that place in Brazil. But who will be the bigger miss if their team doesn’t progress?

Ronaldo’s indisputable position in the top two in the world may seem like the obvious choice. Sir Alex Ferguson has recently revealed in his book that Ronaldo was not only his greatest signing, but also the most gifted player he has ever worked with – quite the compliment if you look at some of the names under Fergie’s tenure. Many will agree that next summer in South America would be a poorer place without Portugal and CR7.

A few stats to back up Ronaldo’s case:

In his six years at Manchester United, he scored 84 goals in 196 appearances.

He became the most expensive player in the world when he was transferred to Real Madrid for £80 million.

He has scored an incredible 154 goals in only 144 games for Real Madrid, most of which coming from midfield.

154 goals in only 144 games for Real Madrid

For Portugal he has 107 caps, and has scored 43 goals.

These numbers are difficult to dispute; there is a strong case that Ronaldo is the world’s greatest player. Plenty in the footballing world will feel that Ronaldo has done enough in the past few years to merit at least a sniff of the Ballon d’Or.

In midweek, Ronaldo bagged a brace against Juventus in a 2-1 win at the Bernabeu, maintaining their 100 per cent record in the Champions League this season.



Here are some quotes from players and managers about Ronaldo to help you decide:


Sir Alex Ferguson: 

“We’ve had some great players at this club in my 20 years, but he’s up with the best.”


Sir Alex Ferguson: 

“We’ve had some great players at this club in my 20 years, but he’s up with the best.”

Jose Mourinho:

“I remember the first time I saw him play. It was for a Sporting CP youth team. I told my assistant, ‘There goes Van Basten’s son.’ Ronaldo had great technique. He stood out.”


Andy Gray:

“When you’ve got a player who does what he does at that pace this late in the game, then you know you’ve got an invaluable talent.”


George Best:

“There have been a few players described as the new George Best over the years, but this is the first time it’s been a compliment to me.”


Ryan Giggs:

“When Cristiano Ronaldo gets the ball, you can just leave him to it while he beats player after player.”


On footballing ability alone, Ronaldo will be a bigger miss than Ibrahimovic. But is it just a player’s footballing ability that proves to be their greatest attraction? Or is it more than that?

A case could be made for missing Ibra just as much as Ronaldo. Apart from his world-class touch and flair (see last weekend’s scorpion-kick goal), the ponytailed Swede has a reputation for being arrogant, self-righteous and delusional. What he says is not only very entertaining because it is comical, but it is also because few others refer to themselves in the third person and believe that what they are saying is true.

 The ponytailed Swede has a reputation for being arrogant, self-righteous and delusional.

Here are some of Zlatan’s greatest quotes, which may persuade some of you to change your mind about who you will miss more:


How to shake off Stephane Henchoz:

“First I went left, he did too. Then I went right, and he did too. Then I went left again, and he went to buy a hot dog.”


After being criticised by John Carew:

“What Carew does with a football, I can do with an orange.”


On refusing a trial at Arsenal:

“Arsène Wenger asked me to have a trial with Arsenal when I was 17. I turned it down. Zlatan doesn’t do auditions.”


What Zlatan bought his wife for her birthday:

”Nothing, she already has Zlatan.”


Househunting with Zlatan:

“We are looking for an apartment (in Paris), if we do not find anything, then we will just buy a hotel.”


His goal-scoring record speaks for itself:


He has scored 214 goals in total for the likes of Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona, Milan and PSG.

He has scored 35 in 44 for PSG since his transfer last year.

He has scored 46 goals for Sweden in 94 appearances (three more goals than Ronaldo with fewer caps for a lower-ranked country).



On footballing ability alone, you may have to side with Ronaldo. For the sheer entertainment factor, you can’t look beyond Ibrahimovic. Whoever it is, the playoff between Portugal and Sweden will be a battle between two of the world’s greatest players with two of the world’s biggest egos. It will be a treat to behold.


Zack Sorkin

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21-year-old Ameri-Czech student of Politics & Economics at the University of Nottingham. Sports Editor @impactmagazine. FFC worshipper. European.

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