Portugal host Sweden Friday evening in the first leg of their World Cup play-off. The winner goes into the second leg with one foot in Brazil for next summer's showpiece.
Both sides boast a good set of players, but two stand out considerably from the rest. Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have been two of the best players in world football for several years. The pair have not stopped scoring in 2013, and their early-season form is improving by the week.
Ronaldo is—unsurprisingly—top scorer in La Liga after 13 matches. He's scored 16 goals in those games at a conversion rate of 20.5 percent—better than Lionel Messi.
Ibrahimovic's Uruguayan teammate, Edinson Cavani, is top scorer in France with nine goals, just one ahead of the Swede. Ibrahimovic's conversion rate is worse than Ronaldo's, though, as it stands at 15.7 percent.
However, Ronaldo has hit 78 shots in Spain, whereas Ibrahimovic has hit just 51.
In Europe, both are in incredible form having scored 15 goals between them in just four Champions League matches. The Portuguese forward has eight after a hat-trick on Matchday 1 against Galatasaray. Swedish superstar Zlatan has seven after his four-goal salvo against Anderlecht, which included a thundering volley that will go down in history.
The Swede makes up for his lack of goals, domestically, with 21 chances created to Ronaldo's 17. Ibrahimovic has created the most chances at Paris Saint-Germain, alongside Lucas Moura, whereas Ronaldo sits down in the fifth at Madrid. However, despite Ibra's high-chance creation rate, both players have assisted three goals.
The pair aren't known for their excellent passing as they make up for it in other areas, but it would be fair to compare their passing figures. Ronaldo has completed 77 percent of his, compared to a poor 71 percent for Zlatan. However, the majority (55.7 pecent) of Ronaldo's passes go backwards. Ibrahimovic, on the other hand, sends most of his forward (62.4 percent).
Ronaldo is a ferocious attacking talent who will run defenders around in rings all week if he could. His pace, skill and power is what sets him apart from the rest of the world.
Something that is often forgotten about the former Manchester United player is his work ethic. In Madrid's stunning 7-3 win against Sevilla earlier this season, Ronaldo scored a hat-trick (obviously), but his heat map over on Squawka shows how hard he works to achieve his sublime figures.
Equally, Ibrahimovic can work hard. He has been known to become quite lazy during matches in the past, but in his winning display in the Champions League at Anderlecht, he covered a large portion of the pitch. His goals that night—one in particular—stole the headlines, but the tall Swede was fantastic, displaying his fitness and work ethic in the perfect manner.
It goes without saying that both players have had superb seasons and an amazing year, but it is Ronaldo who comes out on top in Squawka's Performance Score with a huge score of 811 in La Liga. The closest player to him at Real Madrid is Isco, with 416 points. Ronaldo is the top scorer in La Liga, ahead of second-placed Messi who has 786 points.
Ibrahimovic has scored and created goals but isn't the highest Performance Scorer at PSG, with 401 points, 19 behind Blaise Matuidi. Ibra is eighth in the overall Ligue 1 list, some way off Ronaldo's incredible figure.
Friday night's game should be a tight one, but it will be decided by which superstar wants it more. The World Cup will be without either Cristiano Ronaldo or Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and it will be decided over the next few days.
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