Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1180, (16-22 January 2014)
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1180, (16-22 January 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Soccer on the side - Lethal trio

Ibra, Costa and Suarez made headlines on and off the field, reports Marwan Zayed

Al-Ahram Weekly

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Diego Costa and Luis Suarez are by some distance the most dangerous strikers in the world at the moment. Yes there are some other deadly finishers like Cavani, Falcao and Aguero but few would argue that the first three names are simply unplayable on current form. Furthermore, all three of them stole the headlines for reasons other than football.
First, the enigmatic Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Ibra. We are used to seeing strikers losing their touch and finishing skills as they get older, however, Ibrahimovic is the exact opposite. This much travelled 32-year- old striker is becoming more lethal and more deadly than ever before. At PSG, his seventh club in 13 years, Ibra managed to turn into a magician capable of scoring unbelievable goals out of nothing --  58 goals and more than 30 assist in 68 games with PSG since he joined them at the start of last season is simply astonishing. It’s not just his figures that are admirable and scary but his all round game and how his tough personality on the pitch makes everyone around him respect him.
Ibra started his career back home in Sweden with Malmo and moved to Dutch giants Ajax after scoring 16 goals in 40 appearances. At Ajax, Ibra showed everyone that a future superstar is in the making with some sublime goals, amazing skills and unbelievable technique. It was very obvious to football fans all over the world that this young Swede was destined for glory.
After four magnificent years in which he scored 48 goals in 110 appearances for Ajax, Ibra moved to Italian giants Juventus to take his career another step forward. At Juve, Ibra had two mixed seasons with the first ending with 16 goals in 45 games and the second ending with 10 goals in 47 games. The figures were not great given his qualities but still his performances spoke for themselves.
After winning two league titles, the Italian club was relegated to Seria B as part of the very famous Calciopoli scandal. And a result, Ibra and some other top names moved on and Ibra’s choice was to stay in Italy and sign for Inter Milan. At Inter, he was back in goal scoring form and managed to notch 66 goals and numerous assists in just 117 matches.  His unbelievable form prompted the best club in the world Barcelona to buy him for 46 million euros in addition to Samuel Eto’o moving to the Italian club making Ibra’s total cost around 66 million euros. The deal was shocking to football fans all over the world as Eto’o was the fans favourite in Barcelona while doubts were raised about how Ibra’s tough personality might clash with the best player in the world Lionel Messi.
A very good start that saw him scoring for fun was quickly turned into a nightmare that saw Ibra leave the club after just one season due to problems with coach Pep Guardiola. A move to AC Milan meant Ibra now has played for the biggest three clubs in Italy. Ibra was the talisman of the Italian club as he scored an unbelievable 56 goals and set up 31 goals in just 85 games.
Financial problems meant the Italian club was ready to sell their superstar and here came the move to PSG where Ibra is doing his magic at the moment. The first the season saw him win the league title, best player and top scorer in the league as he notched 35 goals in 45 games in all competitions. His second season is half way now and once again he’s leading the charts with 13 goals in 16 league games in addition to an incredible eight goals in just five games in the Champions League to take his tally to 21 goals in 22 games so far. Ibra is without doubt one of the best three strikers in the world and probably one of the best five players in the world.
Moving to Diego Costa, this Brazilian-Spanish boy has been the talk of the football world for the past season and the current one for two reasons. First, he’s a beast who knows how to score a goal and a striker who’s capable of running the whole day. Defenders find it extremely difficult to stop him as he’s got the lovely touch, the wild one and the deadly one. He emerged on the scene when fan favorite Radamel Falcao left Atletico Madrid to join Monaco. Diego Costa indicated at the beginning of the season that he’s more than capable of filling in Falcao’s boots and he did so in incredible fashion. Scoring week in week out and talking Atletico Madrid to the top of the league level on points with Barcelona shows how important the boy is to the club.
His explosive performance led to war of two giant football nations in the form of Brazil and Spain. Despite appearing for Brazil in a friendly game one year ago, Costa is still eligible to play for both Spain and Brazil. Brazil’s coach said it publicly that he wants Costa to be part of his World Cup squad next year but so did Spain’s coach Del Bosque. The decision was in Costa’s hands and after much speculation and nonsense headlines here and there, he chose to play for Spain because he thinks they believe in him more than Brazil does and that he feels more Spanish given he has been playing in Spain for some time now. Nineteen goals in 17 games for Atletico Madrid so far this season is the least this boy can do and it is almost certain he’ll lead Spain’s attack next summer in Brazil. The only concern about Costa is that some reports in Spain say that he’s not so popular among the Spanish camp which is the last thing Del Bosque will want to hear or see before the World Cup.
Leaving Diego Costa and Ibra we now can talk about arguably the hottest property European football has had seen since the emergence of Messi. The superstar we’re talking about is Liverpool and Uruguay’s Luis Suarez. Any football fan following Suarez in recent years will say he’s unlucky to play in an era that includes players like Messi and Ronaldo. Still 26, Suarez is already one of the best players to wear the famous red shirt of Liverpool in addition to being Uruguay’s all time top scorer with 39 goals in just 71 games.
Suarez had his tough moments after enduring two lengthy bans in England. The first was when he was banned for eight games for racially abusing Patrice Evra even though Evra himself admitted that Suarez probably didn’t know that the word he used in that heated moment is considered racially abusive in England. The second ban was 10 games for biting Chelsea’s Ivanovic.
The two extremely lengthy bans caused all sorts of problems for Suarez both on the personal level and on the sporting level as he was hated and targeted by players, fans and referees especially ever since the second incident. To add to this, Suarez asked to leave Liverpool in the summer of 2013, saying he needed to compete for trophies which weren’t the case at Liverpool. After much speculation Liverpool rejected Arsenal’s 40,000,001 English pounds for Suarez and insisted they won’t sell him for even double that amount. Suarez was upset and didn’t seem interested during the friendly games of the pre-season which prompted LFC fans to say that Suarez should leave and that the player who used to give 200 per cent on the pitch will no longer give his all.
However, and against the odds Suarez was back with a bang as he notched 22 goals in only 16 league games after missing the first five games as part of his second ban.
Suarez is currently Europe’s top scorer among all the top leagues but the point with Suarez is that his game is much more than just scoring goals. Suarez has notched 73 goals and set up more than 35 strikes in just 114 games. Every football fan who knows Suarez since he started his professional career with Nacional will know that this is so normal for such an extraordinary talent. Suarez scored 12 goals in 34 games with Nacional, and 15 goals in 37 games for Gronigen but his real introduction to stardom was at Ajax where he played four years, three of them as captain, and managed to score a simply astonishing 111 goals in only 159 games.
Some people would say that these figures are easy and doable in the mediocre Dutch league but the scary truth is that Suarez is on course to break all the scoring records in the best and toughest league in the world: the English Premier league. Suarez has scored 73 goals in 111 games so far with Liverpool and is playing some out-of-this-planet football at the moment. At this scoring rate and on the current form, Suarez is simply the best player on the planet and get excited because the 26-year- old will still get better and better.

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