GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI WON’T let his players bow before the majesty of Zlatan Ibrahimovic when Ireland meet Sweden in their crunch World Cup qualifier.
Ibrahimovic set the football world buzzing last night with a superb one-man show, scoring all four goals — including a remarkable 30-yard overhead kick — in Sweden’s 4-2 win against England.
It was a powerful warning to Ireland, who trail Erik Hamren’s side by one point in Group C and travel to Stockholm in March for a game which may decide both sides’ fate.
Ibra’s goal was “fantastic,” Trapattoni said, but the Italian refused to be intimidated by the performance of one man.
It will be the team, not only Ibrahimovic against our two centre-backs.
Sweden is a strong team but there is no team unbeatable. The last round of the Champions League showed us that when Celtic beat Barcelona.
He added: “Messi is Messi, but he didn’t win against Celtic. That is important.”
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In his own playing days, Trap continued, he faced much better players than Ibrahimovic — and won — because he had confidence in his own ability.
“We shouldn’t be starting thinking we are inferior. In my career as player, I couldn’t play [thinking I was] inferior against Pele, Sivori, Eusebio, Cryuff. I couldn’t.
“These are big stars, not Ibrahimovic.
I played against them. They were the best, I was a little poor player, but I won the game. We have to think like this. Never denounce what it is possible to achieve.
Following last month’s 6-1 defeat to Germany, Ireland will go into the Stockholm as underdogs and Trapattoni stressed that he will need a fully-fit squad at his disposal.
There is a chance too, he explained, that Sweden will suffer come March as the bulk of their players face a frantic fixture list with their clubs.
“Sweden has a problem because [their players] play many games. They are maybe tired with the league and the Champions League. We have to prepare for the situation because in football, we have to seize these moments.
“In February or March, six months into the league, these players are playing many games. Then there is the little situation where they are missing one important player.
“In football, never say never.”