The biggest story of Tuesday evening's UEFA World Cup playoffs was Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick against Sweden. His three goals decided it was the Real Madrid talisman and not Zlatan Ibrahimovic who would be heading to Rio.
And it doesn't appear as if the Swedish superstar is eager to reach new heights of humility any time soon. Speaking via his official app as per the Daily Mail's Ian Ladyman, the striker wrote: "One thing is for sure; a WC without me is not worth watching—so it’s not worth waiting for it."
The striker is right to believe that Brazil's occasion would certainly be all the better were he on hand to entertain, but to call next year's World Cup anything but unmissable wouldn't be just.
On the night, Ronaldo's hat-trick secured a 3-2 victory for the Portuguese, making it 4-2 on aggregate after Paulo Bento's side had emerged from Lisbon as 1-0 victors in Friday's first leg.
Ibrahimovic had dragged Sweden level at 2-2 on aggregate before Ronaldo's intervention. It was the head-to-head all pre-match commentators had anticipated.
The Madrid man couldn't have been more contrasting to Ibrahimovic in his post-match reaction, saying: "You never know who's going to win and that's why football is brilliant. Simply, I did my work."
Ibrahimovic did get the chance to showcase some of his own headline potential by scoring two well-taken goals of his own on Tuesday, but the result ultimately finished in Ronaldo's favour.
For the Paris Saint-Germain striker, it means the last chance at featuring in a World Cup may have just sailed past. By the time 2018 rolls by, Ibrahimovic will be 36 years of age and possibly (but hopefully not) too old to get back to this stage.
FourFourTom alleged the forward as saying precisely that:
Ladyman gave his own verdict on the head-to-head, remarking:
We could go on but, ultimately, all that matters is the best player in the world on current form will be in Brazil next summer. On the face of it, this Portugal team shouldn't make much of an impression. But if their captain brings this form to the table then, frankly, anything could happen.
The report is right in that Ronaldo's one-man-army display was a dream to watch at times, but the likes of Joao Moutinho and Hugo Almeida certainly had their dazzling moments against the Swedes, too.
It's perhaps for this reason that Ibrahimovic, though being a world-beating talent himself on his day, wasn't able to overcome the opposition, not being able to rely upon as strong a force around him.
Come June 2014, we'll discover just how sincere Ibrahimovic was about the World Cup not being worth watching, and it will take a man of incredibly strong resolve not to turn on the action.