Eurosport Roundtable: Who would YOU pick - Diego Costa or Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

Eurosport Roundtable: Who would YOU pick - Diego Costa or Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

17/02/2015 at 13:04Updated

What a delicious dilemma. Put yourself in the position of a football manager with a team to assemble for a one-off match.

There is only one stipulation: you have to pick either Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Diego Costa; not neither, and not both.

Who do you go for? We asked our team of writers to chip in with their views - so take a look, then head down to the bottom of the page and let us know which way you'd go yourselves.

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Alex Chick @alex_eurosport

Diego Costa – Look, I know it’s sacrilege to overlook one of the most outrageously gifted and entertaining players of the modern age for... him. But let’s say aliens came down tomorrow and challenged us to a game of football for control of planet earth. If you had to pick a team to safeguard the future of humanity, who would you go for? You’d pick a player who is ferociously aggressive, totally committed, a nightmare for opponents and who would do absolutely everything to win.

Sure, Zlatan might score some 30-yard karate kick – but he might also spend the rest of the game admiring his own handiwork as the intergalactic invaders stage an unlikely comeback. When the chips are down I want the guy who will spend 90 minutes treading on alien Achilles tendons, pinching alien chest hair and insulting alien sisters. Sorry Zlatan.

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Toby Keel

Zlatan – I take Alex's point, above, about the whole 'playing a match against Aliens' thing. But I couldn't disagree more strongly with his conclusion. If we're going up against aliens, the guy I want up front is the man who genuinely believes that he is from another planet. And that's what Zlatan offers: the biggest possible ego in sport, and probably up there with Julius Caesar, Henry VIII and Catherine the Great when it comes to the biggest heads in the history of the human race.

In the other corner is a bloke who looks like he'd be happier cutting the grass rather than playing football on it, and whose goals this season have come against Swansea, Schalke, Villa, Arsenal, Luxembourg, Liverpool, West Brom, Hull, West Ham, Spurs, and Newcastle. The aliens would be laughing from all three of their mouths when they see the "hero" of that roll of mediocrity line up against them.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG)

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Dan Quarrell @Dan_Eurosport

Diego Costa – Zlatan is, by his own admission, a pretty magnificent man and a wonderful footballer. The glorious Swede brings so much to the table in terms of his charisma, spiky and eccentric personality and towering marketing presence, but in a one-off game Costa would be by far the more reliable selection.

To highlight Costa’s consistency almost does him a disservice at a time when all anyone seems to care about is sharing short clips of wonder goals and absurd sound bites (this particular striker cares little for either), but he can be relied upon to deliver on the big stage as much as he can in a random friendly. Costa may not have the same aura of greatness and cocksure swagger of Zlatan, but he is utterly ruthless and highly effective where it matters. And no, Zlatan would not have to suffer the indignity of sitting on the bench either – I really don’t wish to insult him.

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Ben Snowball @BenSnowball

Zlatan Ibrahimovic - If you had to pick a bloke for an entire season, Diego Costa would be your man. Yes, he has a permanently poorly hamstring and a tendency to mentally implode, but the Spaniard/Brazilian pretty much guarantees you a goal every time he successfully navigates injury and suspension.

But for a one-off game? Has to be Zlatan. You may be cursed with the mopey, arrogant character - in which case you'll despise yourself for not picking Costa - or you could be blessed with an individual capable of winning a game single-handedly. In one-off matches, it's worth taking a punt on the man who can produce the extraordinary. And that man, without question, is Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic– What sort of question is this? How can anybody even consider picking somebody else over Zlatan? Zlatan comes first. Always.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of brilliant strikers who stamp, elbow, dive and cheat their team to success. Particularly when that striker looks like he’s lived the hardest 26 years of anybody, ever. There’s no doubt about it, Diego Costa is brilliant. But he is not Zlatan.

From scoring incredible 30-yard bicycle kicks and ending interviews with journalists because they have their facts wrong, to having the names of 50 starving children tattooed across his body, Zlatan has it all – both on and off the pitch. For me, there is no contest. All hail King Zlatan!

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Marcus Foley @mmjfoley

Diego Costa - Costa. Every day of the week. Costa is the ultimate team player. Truly willing to sacrifice to ensure his team wins. And ultimately that is what elite level sport is about: winning. At times it may not be pretty but it is effective. If you're purely after aesthetics them Zlatan is your man. But that was not the question. Furthermore, Costa is quite the technically gifted player. No contest, really.

Chelsea's Diego Costa

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Diego Costa - Charisma, confidence and cockiness are words associated with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and they’re three reasons why I wouldn’t pick him over Diego Costa. The Chelsea striker is a nasty, aggressive, vexatious player who intimidates his opponents, but most important of all plays for the team instead of himself.

There’s a fine line between winning a game and losing it which Costa knows all too well – he’ll do anything to win. Absolutely anything. Stamping on players can never be condoned but fighting for every ball, never giving up in duels with defenders and approaching every match with a Rottweiler-like attitude? That’s why Costa gets my pick ahead of the egotistical Swede.

Zlatan may be good for selling shirts, entertaining fans and bringing traffic to websites but that’s all he’s good for. Costa helps win football matches and will continue to do so for years to come.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic – This week Diego Costa told Sport Magazine: “Zlatan is a beast. He is one of those players that I like because of his character and his quality. He is among the best strikers in football history.” Zlatan is a beast-going-on-freak of nature, capable of the kind of inspirational moments that few would even try. While Diego Costa will batter down doors and bite, spit and stamp his way to glory, Zlatan will seize success with an elegant free-kick or a 50-yard dribble.

It all comes down to your view of the world of football but, in a head-to-head between these two most opposite of opposites, I’d rather have the man to whom the impossible is always possible. Football is entertainment, and no one entertains quite like Zlatan.


A draw at 4-4! It's probably a fair result, but no doubt the Zlatanites and the Costafans will both be as outraged as each other that their man didn't get the nod. So please feel free to put us right in the comments box down below...