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Ibra, as known by his fans, has an inherent ability to create a certain calm and ease amongst his teammates with his towering figure, as he seamlessly absorbs all the reliability that is put on him by the squad.
Having won the Scudetto for the first time in seven years in 2010/2011, many critics put it down to Massmiliano Allgeri’s side being highly dependent on Ibrahimovic, even coining the term ‘Ibra-pendenza’.
Since his arrival in the summer of 2010 from Barcelona, it became nothing short of obvious that the big Swede was set to lead the Rossoneri front-line alongside Robinho and Alexandre Pato.
Though with the likes of the rising Brazilian Pato, the rejuvenated Ronaldinho, the arrival of Robinho, and the goal-poaching master Fillipo Inzaghi; it seemed unlikely that the team could rely heavily on one player with such a world renowned front-line.
An early injury to Inzaghi saw the veteran ruled out for the whole season, while Ronaldinho was deemed surplus to requirements with new coach Allegri, leaving the tactician with only a few options available to him.
Though it wasn’t plain sailing for the young Brazilian, Pato, either, he suffered three injury lay-offs before December, resulting in the Swede becoming the focal point of Milan’s play, with support from Robinho.
These injuries, coupled with Ibra’s impressive from, undoubtedly became a determinant on Milan’s reliance on the 6ft5 striker.
In the first twelve matches (9 Serie A and 3 Champions League) of the 2010/2011 season for Milan, Ibra made 11 appearances, scoring seven goals and bagging two assists; however, only five wins were amounted in total.
In the eight Serie A matches Ibra played, he was decisive on three occasions; seeing him either net the winner or the equaliser, or providing an assist for the winning goal.
However, the team endured a troubling start to the season that saw them only win four of their first nine league games; all four wins Ibrahimovic was present in, proving decisive in three of the four winning clashes.
Undoubtedly boasting an impressive record in Serie A it is in Europe where Ibra surprised. Often been labeled as a ‘flop’ on the big stage, Zlatan provided three goals in three matches Champions League matches, leading them to one win, one draw and a loss.
He was instrumental netting the goal that saw Milan draw 1-1 to Ajax Amsterdam, as well as scoring the two goals in a 2-0 win against Auxerre.
Tallying up a total of four goals in eight Champions League fixtures, at a ratio of one goal every second game, it can be seen that there is a huge reliance on the big up man front.
While in the league, the striker struck four goals past his opponents with a brace of assists in eight out of the nine league matches he played.
It was during the first half of the 2010/2011 season where Milan were put under scrutiny for their heavy reliance on Ibrahimovic, where he netted 10 out of his 14 league goals all before the December break, as well as netting just over a quarter of Milan’s total amount of Serie A goals.
The first thirteen games of this season, has proven that there is still a hefty reliance on the former Barcelona player’s prowess in front of goal.
The 30-year-old has scored a tally of seven goals and two assists in all competitions, providing four decisive moments so far.
However, the centre-forward has been criticized for a lack of involvement in terms of other spheres in the game: such as distribution and crossing. According to Tuttosport in the six appearances made in Serie A this term, Zlatan only managed 2.64 passes in 90 minutes of play, and has a low success rate at crossing, with only 29% of his efforts reaching its desired target.
In the four matches that he missed out on at the beginning of this season, the defending Serie A Champions only managed to scrape one narrow win, while drawing two and losing one.
The talismanic forward has such a presence about him, that when his 6ft5 physique is not present on the field: the team evidently struggle without him.
Without him occupying a position in the final third, the Rossoneri are often found lacking a certain edge and flair about them.
Therefore, when considering the mentioned statistics along with what the Malmo born player provides, during a game, it is clear as day, that Milan are highly dependent on his ability to place the ball into the back.
Be it whether or not he is scoring, or whether or not he is just present on the field of play, Milan are colossally dependent on the Swedish international.