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'If we'd been fighting for real, he'd be in hospital'

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'If we'd been fighting for real, he'd be in hospital'
Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a tussle with Giorgio Chiellini on Friday. Photo: Pascal Pavani/AFP
17:10 CEST+02:00
Swedish superstar striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic laughed off his frequent scraps with Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during Friday’s match in typical edgy style. .
“No, it was no problem,” he joked, dismissing his reactions to Chiellini’s aggressive marking. “If we’d been fighting for real, he’d be in hospital.” 
 
Despite his rough words for the Juventus player, Ibrahimovic lavished praise on Italy, which broke the match's deadline with an 88th-minute goal.  
 
“This game shows that against a team like Italy, great team that they are, you must play for the entire 90 minutes,” he said. “It’s not enough to play for 89. You must be cautious for the whole game.”
 
Chiellini took the Swede’s banter in good humour. 
 
"I've always loved Ibra. Also for his congeniality. In football, you need some irony."
 
 
On Friday evening the Italian explained the rationale for his relentless marking. 
 
“You can’t afford to give strikers like him an inch. He can transform balls that most humans can do nothing with into goals,” he said. 
 
“But it took the whole team to help close him down. Zlatan is 80 percent of Sweden’s team.”
 
Chiellini tweeted a photo of himself flashing a victory sign on Saturday afternoon. 
 
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