Alleged Big Game Flop
Coming to FC Barcelona, Zlatan Ibrahimovic had the stigma of disappearing when it mattered the most. From his time at Juventus Turin, to Inter Milan and, to a certain extent, with the Swedish national team, Ibrahimovic (or Ibracadabra, as fans call him affectionately) didn't deliver the goods in the big games.
Enter El Clasico
This season's edition of the Clasico has been billed as a clash of the titans. The media hype surrounding this match is only rivaled by a Champions League or World Cup final. For this reason alone it is safe to say that it is indeed the biggest game in the world.
The list of featured players and substitutes read like the who's who of world football. If you were to assemble just one of these teams, your favorite football club might as well declare bankruptcy.
Heading into the match, Real Madrid was topping La Liga with a one-point advantage over FC Barcelona.
The performances of the Blaugrana in the preceding weeks were far from convincing, and a defeat would've increased the gap to a four-point deficit.
All in all: At this point in the season, the Clasico couldn't get any bigger, or more important.
Replacing Thierry Henry at the start of the second half, Ibrahimovic came, saw, and conquered...and scored.
His goal was of undoubted class. Ibrahimovic displayed audacity, composure, and the technique in converting Daniel Alves' cross into a goal when he could've smacked the ball anywhere in the Camp Nou.
What's the Four-Three-Three?
Except for his time at Ajax Amsterdam, Ibrahimovic has never played in a four-three-three. Not at Juventus Turin or Inter Milan.
Up until his arrival in Catalunya, Ibrahimovic had rarely been featured as a lone striker. As a matter of fact, most pundits entertained the idea that Ibrahimovic is best when played as a second striker.
It took Thierry Henry a whole season, and another coach, to adapt to the Blaugrana way of playing. But it appears that Ibracadabra is excelling in being FC Barcelona's No. 9. He just doesn't stop scoring.
Left-foot, right-foot, header, free kicks...you name it, Ibrahimovic has scored it. It is just the beginning of December, and Zlatan already has 10 goals and six assists to his name.
Ibrahimovic's goal against Xerez in midweek was further evidence of his class. He delightfully chipped the ball over the goalkeeper after being released by Messi just before the penalty area.
He might not possess the speed or the work-rate Samuel Eto'o calls his own, but Ibrahimovic makes up for it with his height, physique, and superior technique that is only rivaled by a chosen few.
I'm inclined to say that Ibrahimovic was destined to play for FC Barcelona. He is a football freak of nature. After all, this is a guy that is almost as tall as Peter Crouch but has the technique that can match Iniesta's.
Ibracadabra has finally found his true home.