Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic urged to come out of retirement with Sweden for World Cup 2018

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Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic urged to come out of retirement with Sweden for World Cup 2018

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC has been urged to sensationally come out of retirement for the World Cup.

Sweden shocked the planet by beating Italy 1-0 over two legs to book their place at Russia 2018.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been urged to come out of retirement for Sweden's World Cup 2018 campaignZlatan Ibrahimovic has been urged to come out of retirement for Sweden’s World Cup 2018 campaignReuters

Marcus Berg has been the man tasked with filling the veteran Manchester United striker’s boots up front.

And Berg, who plays for Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates, has made a good impression with eight goals in qualifying.

But calls have been made for 36-year-old Ibra – Sweden’s all-time top scorer – to lace up his boots and drive the nation’s bid for World Cup glory.

He celebrated his nation’s triumph by posting a picture of the team celebrating, captioned: “We are Zweden.”

We are Zweden @swemnt

A post shared by IAmZlatan (@iamzlatanibrahimovic) on Nov 13, 2017 at 2:34pm PST

Zlatan Ibrahimovic watches on as Sweden defeat Italy in the first leg of their World Cup qualifierZlatan Ibrahimovic watches on as Sweden defeat Italy in the first leg of their World Cup qualifierAFP or licensors Mino Raiola insists he would have Zlatan Ibrahimovic back in the Sweden team if it were up to himMino Raiola insists he would have Zlatan Ibrahimovic back in the Sweden team if it were up to himRex Features Marcus Berg has been the man to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front for SwedenMarcus Berg has been the man to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front for SwedenAP:Associated Press

And his agent, Mino Raiola, said: “If it were up to me, I would give him to you.”

But the feeling is not unanimous.

GETTING SHIRTY Manchester United stock up on Zlatan Ibrahimovic shirts as Red Devils striker nears Premier League return

Sweden manager Janne Andersson blasted: “This is incredible! This player [Ibrahimovic] has just stopped to play with Sweden one year and a half ago and we are still here talking about him.

“Gosh, we need to talk about the great players we have in this team I believe.”

He added: “When Ibrahimovic was here with us we played a different style of football.

“Considering that he has decided to leave international football, he is a great champion, but we had to adapt and found another style.”

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Sweden legend Kurt Hamrin agrees with Andersson that the team has found a winning formula WITHOUT their old talisman.

And he amazingly labelled his outspoken countryman a “pain” and “selfish”.

He said: “I think it’s almost better that Sweden are playing without Ibrahimovic, because he was a pain on the pitch.

“The whole team was just working to get him in a position to create something and he didn’t always manage it.

Sweden boss Janne Andersson blasted claims Zlatan Ibrahimovic could return for the World CupSweden boss Janne Andersson blasted claims Zlatan Ibrahimovic could return for the World CupALESSANDRO GAROFALO Sweden players rejoice after qualifying for next year's World Cup in RussiaSweden players rejoice after qualifying for next year’s World Cup in RussiaAP:Associated Press It was an emotional night for the Sweden squad after they held on to overcome ItalyIt was an emotional night for the Sweden squad after they held on to overcome ItalyAFP or licensors Seb Larsson celebrates as Sweden amazingly progress to the World CupSeb Larsson celebrates as Sweden amazingly progress to the World CupGetty Images - Getty

“Obviously, when he was at 100 per cent and it paid off, that was fine, but when he had fitness problems, he was almost always a weight on their shoulders.

“The team is different without Ibrahimovic. It might not be able to count on his moment of magic, but there are 11 players fighting hard.

“Ibra is someone who plays only for himself and makes sure the rest of the team does too.”

Last night’s result may have left the Sweden squad crying tears of joy, but it was heartbreak for their Italian counterparts.

Gianluigi was reduced to tears as he bowed out of Italian football without being able to add to his 2006 World Cup winners' medalGianluigi was reduced to tears as he bowed out of Italian football without being able to add to his 2006 World Cup winners’ medalGetty Images - Getty Zlatan Ibrahimovic insists Sweden deserved their World Cup spotZlatan Ibrahimovic insists Sweden deserved their World Cup spotGetty - Contributor

It spelled the end of Gianluigi Buffon’s international career.

The Juventus keeper, 39, wept as he bowed out of the Italy squad without being able to add to his 2006 World Cup winners’ medal.

But Ibrahimovic, who spent two years playing alongside the legendary stopper in Turin, said: “Buffon can cry as much as he wants but the fact is Sweden deserved to go through so please appreciate them.”

Ibrahimovic, who is expected to return from injury for United before Christmas, retired from international duty after Sweden were knocked out of Euro 2016 in June.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is expected to return for Manchester United before ChristmasZlatan Ibrahimovic is expected to return for Manchester United before ChristmasAFP or licensors

A 1-0 defeat to Belgium in Nice meant the Scandinavians finished bottom of Group E.

Ibrahimovic said: “It feels heavy. It feels disappointing but at the same time I enjoyed it.

“We had the possibility of playing in the European Championships, I represented Sweden at this tournament so at the same time I am proud.

“This was my last game and I have many fantastic memories of the national team.

“It is a nice story as where I came from, what people called the little ghetto, I made the country my country. Sweden.”

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