Euro 2016: Zlatan Ibrahimovic can destabilise any team, says Antonio Conte
Montpellier (France): He terrorised opposition defences in Serie A for seven seasons but Zlatan Ibrahimovic will face stiff resistance to his efforts to rescue Sweden's Euro 2016 campaign against Italy today.
One of the most feared strikers in the world, Ibrahimovic's ability to produce moments of goalscoring magic have delighted fans for the past decade. He hit 11 goals for Sweden in their qualifying campaign, only two shy of German Robert Lewandowski, and with the pressure now on the towering striker Italy coach Antonio Conte has sounded a warning.
"I like Ibra a lot, above all when he plays for the national team. He's got plenty of character, and he leads by example," said the Italy handler. "He's become even stronger over the past few years, and he's still progressing. He's a very strong player who can destabilise any team." Lazio winger Antonio Candreva said.
Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic tries to balance the ball during a training session ahead of their clash vs Italy in Montpellier yesterday. Pic/AFP
"Zlatan can put a whole team under pressure just by himself, but we have to concentrate on our own game ... and try to limit their strengths," After a 1-1 draw with Republic of Ireland in which Ibrahimovic failed to sparkle despite playing a decisive role in Ciaran Clark's late own goal, the Swedes are under pressure. A defeat would leave the Scandinavians needing to beat Belgium, in their last group game and hope they get among the four best third-placed group finishers to sneak into the last 16.
Sweden coach Erik Hamren is already dubious. "Even though we managed to come back and equalise, I am disappointed. We will need to play at 300 percent to get through," he said after their opening draw. Sweden will really need the talents of Ibrahimovic, their talisman for many seasons.