Zlatan clinches Clasico, Cristiano settles World Cup play-off thriller - Ibrahimovic & Ronaldo's head-to-head history

By Sports Desk February 13, 2020

The Coppa Italia semi-final between Milan and Juventus will pit two of the greatest goalscorers of the modern era against each other.

Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juve's Cristiano Ronaldo are set to renew acquaintances when San Siro plays host to Thursday's first leg.

Both Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo are in the latter stages of their careers, but the prospect of them sharing the pitch still adds an extra layer of intrigue to the occasion.

Here we look back at the previous meetings between two of world football's most feared finishers.

 

2009: Inter 0-0 Manchester United, Manchester United 2-0 Inter

Ronaldo got the better of Ibrahimovic and Inter in the last 16 of the Champions League as, after a goalless draw at San Siro in the first leg, the Portugal great headed United's second goal of the return to secure their progression.

2009: Barcelona 1-0 Real Madrid

Ibrahimovic left Inter for Barca at the end of the 2008-09 season, while Ronaldo made a then world-record move to Madrid following United's Champions League final loss to the Blaugrana. CR7 would again be frustrated by Barca as Ibrahimovic wrote his name into Clasico folklore with a superb far-post volley from Dani Alves' perfectly placed right-wing cross.

2010: Real Madrid 2-0 Milan, Milan 2-2 Real Madrid

Though Ibrahimovic lasted only one season at Camp Nou, he renewed acquaintances with Ronaldo in the Champions League group stages. Ronaldo set in motion a victory for Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu with a low free-kick from the edge of the area, but both players were held in check at San Siro in an entertaining draw.

2013: Portugal 1-0 Sweden, Sweden 2-3 Portugal

The second leg of the World Cup qualifying play-off between Sweden and Portugal proved unquestionably the best encounter featuring Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic so far, as they each delivered their best with a place in Brazil on the line. 

Ronaldo earned Portugal a 1-0 advantage in the first leg, and looked to have given them complete command of the tie five minutes into the second half in Solna. Ibrahimovic, though, turned the tie around with a headed equaliser followed by a rasping free-kick, only for Ronaldo to have the final say by superbly finishing off a counter and then emphatically converting from Joao Moutinho's throughball.

2015: Paris Saint-Germain 0-0 Real Madrid, Real Madrid 1-0 Paris Saint-Germain

The most recent meetings between the two featured no such fireworks as Madrid and PSG largely cancelled each other out across two Champions League group stage encounters, with Nacho scoring the goal that ultimately proved decisive in Los Blancos topping the group.

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    There could also be some new faces on the scene, with a host of uncapped prospects given an extra campaign to break through.

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    GABRIEL MARTINELLI (BRAZIL)

    Even beyond Neymar, Roberto Firmino, Gabriel Jesus and co., Brazil have a wealth of attacking talent.

    Matheus Cunha and Paulinho each starred at this year's CONMEBOL Pre-Olympic Tournament and are already plying their trade in the Bundesliga, yet the nation's most outstanding prospect might reside in London.

    Gabriel Martinelli is eligible for both Brazil and Italy, but the Selecao will surely move swiftly to cap-tie the striker.

    Martinelli trained with Brazil last year aged 17 after starring for Ituano, and he has continued to impress in his first season at Arsenal, scoring 10 goals in all competitions.

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    CRISTIAN ROMERO (ARGENTINA)

    Argentina have long had problems at centre-back, with Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi still a regular at international level.

    However, head coach Lionel Scaloni could soon have greater options to choose from, with younger talents now breaking through.

    Nehuen Perez might well have gone to the 2020 Copa America, having been called up for the first time late last year after promising loan spells away from Atletico Madrid, but he could soon find himself nudged back down the pecking order.

    Cristian Romero appears well-placed to establish himself, having earned a €26million move from Genoa to Juventus at the start of the season, although he returned on loan to his former club, who are enduring a testing campaign.

    With Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci ageing, Romero should get opportunities with Juve next term - and Argentina could soon come calling.

     

    DIEGO ROSSI (URUGUAY)

    Uruguay continue to rely on a number of their veterans of previous tournaments, but this will have to change in the coming months and years - especially in attack.

    Luis Suarez faced a race to be fit for the 2020 edition, while Edinson Cavani's club future is in doubt as his Paris Saint-Germain contract expires. Even Cristhian Stuani is now playing in Spain's second tier. All three are 33 years old.

    And Diego Rossi should back himself to be in position to put pressure on that star trio in 12 months' time.

    Rossi left Penarol for Los Angeles FC aged 19 and has proven an instant hit in MLS, scoring 29 goals in 68 regular-season appearances, helping his club win the 2019 Supporters' Shield.

    LAFC general manager John Thorrington has spoken of "significant interest" in Rossi from Europe, and such a move would give the forward a great chance of making the grade for Uruguay.

     

    JORGE CARRASCAL (COLOMBIA)

    Rossi's LAFC team-mates Eddie Segura and Eduard Atuesta both appear set for first Colombia caps, but Jorge Carrascal might now have nudged to the front of that queue.

    A tricky winger who debuted for Millonarios at just 16, Carrascal initially struggled after joining River Plate on loan from Ukraine's Karpaty Lviv last year.

    However, Carrascal improved as the season went on, earning a permanent switch to River - and, crucially, a call-up to the Colombia Under-23s.

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    Vinicius Junior made a big-money move from Flamengo to Madrid in 2018 and had debuted for Brazil within 12 months of his LaLiga bow. The path is clear.

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    Chris Sutton was in a hurry on this day in 1995, scoring the fastest goal in Premier League history at that time.

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    1995 – Chris Sutton scores Premier League's fastest goal

    Alan Shearer's prolific strike partnership with Sutton was pivotal in firing Blackburn Rovers to the 1994-95 Premier League title and they combined with aplomb after 12.94 seconds at Goodison Park.

    Shearer nodded a lofted ball down for Sutton, who took a touch before thumping home to set a 2-1 win in motion - making April fools of the home defence.

    Six players have since dipped inside Sutton's best mark. Dwight Yorke did so later that year, while Shearer himself now sits inside a top three headed by Shane Long – the Southampton forward who stunned Watford after 7.69 seconds.

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    'The Brown Bomber' had won the heavyweight title the previous June against James Braddock – aka 'The Cinderella Man'.

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    1933 – Wally Hammond hits 336

    Even though he was one of Test cricket's great technicians, New Zealand must have been fed up of the sight of Hammond by the end of their 1933 series, where he averaged a scarcely credible 563.

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    ROUND-UP

    - Manchester United could be turning to an old target. ESPN reports the Premier League club are prepared to make a bid for Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt if the Serie A giants are open to a sale this close season.

    - Harry Kane's future at Tottenham seemingly remains unclear. But The Daily Mail says Spurs are confident of keeping the forward, who said on Monday he would not stay at the club just "for the sake of it".

    - It looks like Jadon Sancho to Liverpool will not be happening. The Mirror claims the Premier League leaders are not targeting the Borussia Dortmund star, leaving United and Chelsea as the English clubs still in the chase.

    - Where will Philippe Coutinho end up next season? Sport reports Leicester City are interested in a loan deal for the playmaker, who is on loan at Bayern Munich from Barcelona. Staying at Camp Nou and Sport says Barcelona are considering a move for Layvin Kurzawa, who is out of contract at PSG at season's end, as a back-up to Jordi Alba.

    - Edinson Cavani is also out of contract at the end of the season at PSG, but CalcioMercato reports the Uruguayan striker will not be joining Atletico Madrid, the club he has been linked to.

    - With Alexis Sanchez set to return to Manchester United from his loan spell at Inter, The Sun reports the club will be forced to pay the attacker a £1.1million loyalty payment.

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