Sunday October 18 2020
Is a dominant Ibra a good thing for Serie A?


A 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still dominating the game, Lorenzo Bettoni wonders if that’s good news for Serie A.


No one remembers Zlatan Ibrahimovic losing a single duel in the derby of Milan which he decided with a brace. The Swede gave his best in aerial battles, exposing each one of Inter’s three defenders to serious problems. He combined his  specialty was alternated with flashes of brilliance with the ball at his feet. It was no coincidence the penalty through which Milan opened the scoring was won by the 39-year-old with superb ball control and hold up play which forced Aleksandar Kolarov into a foul that, in all honesty, could have been avoided.
Ibra has not only confirmed he is still a ruthless striker with 16 goals in 23 appearances since he returned to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in January. He is also an incredible tactical weapon for the Rossoneri's coach Stefano Pioli who can always rely on long balls when his team is struggling to keep the ball.
That’s exactly what Milan did to ease Inter’s pressing which is always very intense. Every time they seemed close to losing the plot, the Rossoneri looked for their leaders with long passes and, fortunately for them, the former Man United star managed to always make something out of it.
He didn’t just nulify both Danilo D’Ambrosio and Kolarov, who were makeshift centre-backs in Antonio Conte's three-man backline, but he also hide the ball for 90 minutes from best defender in Serie A last season, namely Stefan de Vrij. Ibra is not a leader only inside the locker room. He goes out there and proves it on the pitch. Once again, it can’t come as a surprise that everyone around him has improved their performances at Milan since he arrived. From Hakan Calhanoglu to Rafael Leao who provided the assist for Ibra’s second goal on Saturday.
One question, however, must be asked. Is such a dominating 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic good news for Serie A? Certainly, the rhythm and the pace of Italian football compared to the Premier League, for example, is not as high. As we all know, the league is very tactical, made of experienced coaches and players who are maybe not the quickest in Europe. The post-lockdown matches have also featured a sort of dip in every game in Italy and in the rest of Europe as the fixture list has been extremely busy of late.
Zlatan, however, has scored against every kind of opponent Milan have faced since he returned. He scored against every big opponent of the Diavoli: Inter (again), Lazio and Juventus last season plus the latest brace in the derby. Serie A may not be the top league that it used to be back in the ‘90s but it is indisputably getting back to its standards. The fact that Ibra left his mark in every big occasion since last January proves his domination is not a problem for Serie A. On the contrary, he will be a noticeably big problem for each one of Milan’s next opponents. Regardless of who they are.

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Have your say...
@Vero Rossonero

it the style i am referring to the likes of aguero, dybala, mpabbe, haaland are quality forwards it the likes of quality forwards. there is a effectively a group of a couple of dozen or so highly talented forwards and than a massive drop off in quality. a significant amount of these impressive forwards being in their 30s.

i am not discounting ignorance i accept that players are out there who can and will be top quality forwards however without any real examination its barren.
on the 20th October, 2020 at 9:06am
Love him or hate him, you have to respect him and what he can do. He never played with speed, strength and positioning were always what made him special and as long as he stays healthy could go well into his forties.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 5:31pm
Any dominant player is good for Serie A.
To me a world class player is also a modest respectful good human so I was never a big fan of his and had my doubts, but I’m glad to see him becoming more of a respected marshal then a divisive cocky guy full of himself.
Why the players seem to care and fear him more then the coach is a different matter.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 4:29pm
I wish Italy had a player like him! The guy is amazing.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 12:40am
@Paolo: the nature of the game has changed. "Classic" no. 9s like Ibra, Lewandowski, Dzeko and Higuain are a dying breed. Top contemporary coaches like Klopp and Pep don't play with "classic" no. 9s. Neither did Sarri at Napoli. Indeed, this is why Ibra probably had a troubled spell at Barca. His type doesn't fit the high press (work rate!) high possession style en vogue. There are still some up and coming no. 9s out there though. Haaland is going to command a huge fee when makes the next jump.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 12:02am
You have to understand Ibrahimovic is not a normal football player nor a normal human being. Have some respect for the man, he is divine.

If not for that injury two years ago, his numbers would've been even better. That kind of injury end the careers of young footballers, but not Zlatan, the man is half-God. Some might not like it, but it's true. Yes Serie A is more suited to him but even the legendary Buffon as a goalkeeper couldn't keep the same level of fitness and performances at this age
on the 18th October, 2020 at 11:22pm
This man is a life force. What he brings to the pitch is not only physical but psychological.
Since his return, he has brought great confidence to the team on the pitch and to the organization as well. It is amazing that what one man can bring to a club. Do you think Juve missed Ronaldo or Dybala vs Crotone. They lacked both leadership, excitement and desire and it showed.
No, Ibra isn’t the player of the past but his will ,his leadership can not be underestimated and he makes Milan winners!
on the 18th October, 2020 at 10:28pm
zlatan dominated in the premier league in his mid 30s his ability as a player isn't representative of the state of the league.

what is concerning is the lack of quality italian strikers in fact the lack of quality strikers altogether in italian football and world football.

it is worrying that ibra still remains credible and relevant in football simply because the younger generation of strikers can't match his standards at age 39 par a dozen or so exceptional players.
on the 18th October, 2020 at 4:37pm
Great news because even at 39 years old there are not a lot of number 9s who can say are better than him. And watching him stuffing inter net time and time again is a joy to watch...
on the 18th October, 2020 at 3:41pm

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