Big Two in a Swedish Showdown

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(From Wall Street Journal, November 18th, 2013) The summer of 2014 is going to bring a great deal of happiness to the soccer community.  That summer marks the beginning of the World Cup, the biggest soccer tournament in the world.  Countries from all over the globe come to prove that they are the best of the best, but Sweden has one man on their team that could take their World Cup hopes to the next level.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has proved himself to be one of the most accomplished players in the world right now; he has an impressive ten league titles with six different teams: Ajax Amsterdam, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, and PSG.  Zlatan has made his name known all over the world, and with the exception of a handful of other players, he is the most recognized man in the sport of soccer.  “It doesn’t matter where we go, if we’re abroad or some place in Sweden, I’ve never seen someone as big who makes such an impression on people,” states Sweden’s national team midfielder Alex Kacaniklic.  Ibrahimovic has not only boosted his own stardom but also the fame of whichever team he plays on.  For example PSG, a team out of Paris, France, was practically unknown until Ibrahimovic played for them.  After he joined the team, PSG moved up significantly in rankings and is now considered one of the best teams in the world along with Manchester United and Real Madrid.  Despite all of his success, time is ticking for Zlatan as he is now 32 years old and still has one great goal to achieve: a World Cup championship.

November 19, 2013 marks a day that could completely change the course of Ibrahimovic’s life.  On that day Sweden, the team he currently plays for, challenges Cristiano Ronaldo and the Portuguese national team.  This game will decide who qualifies to make it to the World Cup in Brazil this coming summer and who will go home.  It is the second game of two between Sweden and Portugal, and with Portugal holding the upper hand with the first win, Sweden must bring their best game in order to compete and advance.  At Ibrahimovic’s age this will most likely be his last World Cup ever, so he will definitely give it his very best and leave everything on the field when the 19th arrives.