Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Sweden v Portugal: Zlatan Ibrahimovic was ineffective in first leg in comparison to Cristiano Ronaldo


Heatmaps of the World Cup playoff first leg in Lisbon show that whereas Cristiano Ronaldo was a threat Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic did not enter Portugal's penalty area.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic did not once enter Portugal's penalty area in the World Cup playoff first leg
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s failure to threaten Portugal during Friday’s World Cup play-off was so complete that the Sweden forward failed to even set foot in the opposition penalty area in Lisbon.
Heat maps from the first leg at Estadio da Luz highlight the movement of every player on the pitch during Portugal’s 1-0 victory. And the contribution of Paris Saint Germain forward Ibrahimovic is striking, with the 32-year-old’s efforts and work-rate falling well below the levels of Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
Portugal appear to have discovered the secret to keeping Ibrahimovic quiet during the first leg, but they must now repeat the trick in Stockholm on Tuesday to seal a place in Brazil.
Ibrahimovic was shackled by the defensive pairing of Bruno Alves and Pepe throughout Friday’s encounter. But while Ibrahimovic was quiet and impotent against the Portuguese, Ronaldo capped his all-action display with the crucial goal in the closing stages.
The contrast between the performance of the two players is highlighted by the heat maps, which detail precisely where they spent their time on the pitch.
Ronaldo, who drove Portugal on from the first minute, is shown on the heat maps to have spent virtually the entire 90 minutes in the attacking third - with time equally spent through the centre and on both flanks.
Each member of Sweden’s back-four had to deal with the Real Madrid forward at some point of the game and his diving header which won the tie - and preceded another header which struck the crossbar - came in the six-yard box, where he spent much of the evening.
Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, ploughed a lone furrow - literally - with his heat map showing that the mercurial forward spent almost all of the game in the centre of the pitch, with the exception of some brief runs to the flanks.
The Swede barely went in search of the ball, preferring to prowl the middle third and take his chances against Pepe and Bruno Alves.
And incredibly, the heat map shows that Ibrahimovic did not even stray into the Portugal penalty area.
In Stockholm on Tuesday, Portugal may be forced to keep him tied down again, and hope that Ronaldo proves equally as busy, in order to put their 1-0 advantage to good use.
The Telegraph

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