Zlatan Ibrahimovic explains why he floored Azpilicueta with vicious off-ball shoulder charge
"I did it on purpose. I’m not ashamed to say it because he did something stupid to my player."
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has explained why he floored Cesar Azpilicueta with a vicious off-ball shoulder charge during Sweden's recent game against Spain.
The AC Milan striker was caught bringing Chelsea's Azpilicueta to the ground with a forceful shoulder charge as Spain edged out Sweden to secure a place at the 2022 World Cup.
The incident, which occurred towards the end of the game, saw Ibrahimovic drop his shoulder into Azpilicueta's back, with the defender instantly dropping to the floor after the contact.
Ibrahimovic also ended on the floor, most likely because he quickly remembered that he could face a VAR review for the 'challenge'.
Although the Spaniard required some treatment, he managed to finish the game, as did Zlatan, with the VAR officials not deeming the incident worthy of intervention.
While it appeared obvious that 40-year-old's actions were intentional, there were some that didn't believe it was done on purpose.
However, Ibrahimovic has now revealed that he deliberately wiped out the Chelsea man.
"The other day in the national team, I gave a tackle to [Spain’s Azpilicueta]. I did it on purpose. I’m not ashamed to say it because he did something stupid to my player. Acting big to my player," he told The Guardian.
"It was a stupid thing but I would still do it to make him understand: ‘You don’t f****** do that. You don’t have balls to do it against me. But I will show you what happens if you do it to me. That’s why I did it."
Zlatan floors Azpilicueta with “dark arts”! 😲
Ibrahimovic escaped punishment during the game but has since been banned from the first leg of Sweden’s World Cup play-off tie... pic.twitter.com/7YmEUK8l6i
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) November 15, 2021
The former Manchester United striker added that Azpilicueta said nothing to him after the game.
He continued: "What can he say? He will not say it to me but he will say it to my player – who will do nothing because he’s too nice. It was not a good thing by me, but I would still do it. That’s me. I’m not ashamed to say it."
Ibrahimovic will miss Sweden’s first play-off match in March as a result of the incident, but he insisted that he has no regrets about taking out Azpilicueta - vowing that he'd do it again.
"It’s not about missing the play-offs. It’s about making the guy understand you don’t take the piss out of somebody laying [on the ground]," he said.
"You don’t attack a dog that doesn’t talk. Attack the one able to do something. It’s too easy to pick on my teammates who are 20 years old and very nice guys. I hope he understands now.
"I did a stupid thing. [But] I will do it again. 100%."
Luis Enrique's side knew prior to kick-off that they required only a point to reach Qatar, but failed to capitalise on a bright start.
Ibrahimovic was introduced as Sweden steadily grew into the game but was unable to have the impact his manager had hoped for.
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