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The Ibrahimovic Enigma: Can PSG and Sweden Thrive Without him?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic – PSG

While Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic may have polarised opinion throughout his career, few can argue with the pedigree of clubs that he has represented. With a resume that includes successful stints at Inter Milan, Barcelona and now French champions Paris St. Germain, the man known simply as ‘Zlatan’ has amassed an array of winners’ medals and an enduring reputation for moments of individual brilliance. While his perceived arrogance and occasional lack of work rate may detract slightly from his appeal, there is no doubt that both PSG and the Swedish national team have come to rely on his extraordinary ability.

Sweden

Both teams are being forced to do without the talismanic frontman at present, however, as he remains side-lined with a seemingly innocuous heel injury incurred during the home league clash with Olympique Lyonnais at the beginning of the season. Having initially been ruled out for a couple of weeks, it appears as though the severity of the injury has been underestimated and experts are predicting that Ibrahimovic may miss many more key games in the coming weeks. While the French newspaper Le Parisien claims that he is highly unlikely to require surgery, he is expected to be unavailable for clashes with Bordeaux, Lorient and APOEL in the UEFA Champions League.

If his injury persists, Ibrahimovic may also miss the top of the table league clash with leaders Olympique Marseille and Sweden’s crucial European Championship qualifier with Montenegro. This may have a devastating impact on both PSG and Sweden, with the former seven points off the pace in the French League and the latter having collected just five points from their first three qualifying matches. With Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani now controversially suspended for PSG and Sweden lacking a world class striking alternative, both teams will be praying that their frontman makes a quick and total recovery.

Both PSG and Sweden have struggled noticeably without Ibrahimovic’s presence up front, and this should come as no surprise given his pedigree and experience as an international forward. PSG look particularly lightweight in Europe without Ibrahimovic leading the line, and this is confirmed by the Freebets Champions League infographicwhich suggests that the Swede is the clubs best performing player in the competition. With his absence likely to extend beyond the next two weeks and well into November, however, both club and country will need to find a viable alternative if they are to achieve their short-term goals.

Cavani admits PSG frustrations

Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani has admitted he could be tempted to leave the French champions unless the club adapt their tactics and give the Uruguayan a more attacking role. Cavani became the most expensive player in French football history following his £60million move to Paris from Napoli last summer, but the 27-year old has been forced to play the majority of the season on the right wing.

While the Uruguay international has impressed with 21 goals to his name this season, playing an important role in PSG being the overwhelming Betfair favourites to defend their Ligue 1 title, Cavani has made no secret over the fact that he isn’t able to get forward more and show off the abilities that convinced PSG to splash out a record transfer fee to acquire his football talents.

After starting the season with a traditional 4-4-2 system, PSG head coach Laurent Blanc has changed his tactics and switched to 4-3-3, forcing Cavani to do much of his work on the flanks with Zlatan Ibrahmovic leading the attack for the French giants.

And Cavani has revealed that he is not happy with his current situation, making it clear he wouldn’t rule out a possible summer move to the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid, who have all been tipped by Betfair punters to be in the race to sign the forward.

“I am fine in Paris, but obviously there are things we have to talk about with the club, things we need to do in a different way. For a forward used to scoring and which has to do defensive tasks now, it is not easy,” said Cavani.

“Playing in 4-4-2 was my vision of the team when I joined Paris. It is one of the arguments that motivated me to sign in that club.”

With the World Cup coming up this summer, Cavani will be forced to leave thoughts of his long-term future at the back of his minds. With Uruguay being backed by a number Betfair fans to cause a surprise in this summer’s tournament, Cavani will be a crucial part of the South American’s hopes.

PSG not looking to lose Pastore

Paris Saint-Germain chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi has poured water on rumours that Javier Pastore would want to leave the French champions during the January transfer window. The Argentinean playmaker has failed to live up to the lofty expectations that have surrounded him since his big-money move from Palermo in 2011.

 

With PSG rumoured to be open to the idea of selling the Argentina international, a number of European clubs are been linked with Pastore, with Liverpool, now 4/6 to finish in the top four, rumoured to be very interested in taking the midfielder to the Premier League.

 

However, despite the rumours, Al-Khelaifi believes Pastore is happy in Paris and insists the 24-year-old has played an important role in the club’s recent history, in which the midfielder was one of the first major players signed by the ambitious Qatari owners.

 

“I am not sure Pastore wants to leave. When a player is unhappy it is difficult to keep him. But it is not the case with Pastore. We will never forget he was one of the very first key players to join our project,” said the PSG chairman.

 

“We are loyal to our players as we ask them to be loyal to the club. Pastore is both a man and player of quality. Maybe he is in a difficult period, but he remains one of the biggest talents in the football world.”

 

After a somewhat disappointing opening season in Paris in which he managed to muster just four goals and eight assists for a side consistently favourite in the French football odds, Pastore hasn’t been as important a member of the PSG side as he would have liked. After a modest first half of the season in Ligue 1, Pastore opened his account for the campaign with the opening goal in his side’s 3-1 League Cup victory against Bordeaux.

Matuidi still keen to extend Paris stay

Paris St Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi has admitted he is still keen to agree fresh terms at the club despite talk over a new contract continuing to drag on. The tough-tackling France international has been linked with a move to the Premier League since the summer, with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea closely monitoring the situation at PSG.

There are a number of Premier League clubs in the market for a midfielder of Matuidi’s calibre, and current Betfair favourites Manchester City reportedly in the lead to sign the Frenchman if no new deal at PSG is agreed.

While speculation in France suggests a deal is close, with Matuidi set to prolong his stay in the capital until 2018, the 26-year old has admitted he doesn’t know for certain whether he’ll sign a new contract with the current Ligue 1 champions, who are firm favourites with Betfair to defend their title this season. PSG know they need to move quickly, well aware that Matuidi will be free to discuss pre-contract terms with interested parties in the new year.

The France international claims ‘anything can happen’ from this point, but has insisted he would be more than happy to stay in Paris if a suitable offer is put to him in.

“I am really at ease at PSG. My first wish would be to stay. But you can wish for something and sometimes it doesn’t happen,” said the former Saint-Etienne star.

“The club has a special place in my heart, but anything can happen in a career.”

Matuidi has been an ever-present in the PSG side this season, playing a key role in the club’s sensational start to the season that sees them odds on favourites with Betfair to retain the title. The midfielder has also managed to establish himself as an important part of the France side that clawed their way into next summer’s World Cup, and Matuidi will be hoping to be on that plane to Brazil next year.

Silva expects further Marquinhos improvement

Thiago Silva has praised fellow defender,Marquinhos’ impact since his arrival at Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.

The youngster moved to Europe with Roma at the start of the 2012 campaign and his form for the Giallorossi saw him linked with a number of Europe’s top sides.

Barcelona were initially the frontrunners to sign him in the summer but he opted to join the revolution at the Parc des Princes in a deal worth €32million.

Despite his massive price tag, the teenager struggled to break into the PSG starting line-up at first, with compatriot, Alex, often being preferred in defence alongside Silva due to Laurent Blanc’s desire to stick with the partnership that won the title last term.

However, an injury to the skipper saw him earn a run of games in the side and he certainly has not let fans who bet on football down, scoring three times in his 11 appearances, as Les Parisiens continued their fine start to the campaign.

His form earned him his first cap for Brazil against Honduras at the weekend and the 19-year-old will now be looking to make similar strides on the international scene ahead of next summer’s World Cup in his homeland.

Silva also captains the Selecao and is sure to play a huge role as Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men go for their sixth world title, an accolade that the latest football betting expects them to claim.

The former AC Milan defender has now praised the starlet and believes he will only keep improving as he continues to settle into life in Ligue 1.

“I have more contact with Marquinhos with PSG and the Selecao,” he told GloboEsporte. “I always knew he would succeed in the French Championship. I also learned a lot during my first year, which of course has helped me to grow.”

Cavani: “PSG must keep going forward!”

The Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani spoke to the press about his clubs progress in the Ligue 1.

PSG played against Lorient in their last game, in which Edinson scored 2 goals. From that point on, PSG became the leader in the Ligue 1. If you want to bet on PSG, go find yourself online bookmakers.


“Tonight was a great night. To score twice made me very happy! We must keep going. It’s good, but we must continue to work hard.”

The press asked him for his opinion of Salvatore Sirigu, and he stated:

“I’m happy for him. He’s an incredible signing. He is a top player,” the Italian said.

“He’s a special player because he scores a lot but also because he helps the team. This is very important.”

Lucas: “My comments about Ibra were misunderstood by the press”

The Brazilian wunderkid is saying that he’s getting along pretty well with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, unlike it was understood by the press.

Lucas’s statement caused a lot of trouble for PSG. Their club has been very busy explaining that everything is in order in the club, and that there are no “clans” and fights between their players. Just check the odds and lines for Soccer at Top Bet if you’re interested to bet on PSG.

“I gave an interview over the phone yesterday and ended up being misunderstood about what I said about Ibra.”I talked to them about how Ibra yells a lot, complains, curses … but these are normal things for a striker, because everyone wants to win and score goals.”

“It’s his way, but he is a great player and is very important for the team. He treats me very well, he plays with me and talks with me. We get along very well.”

This is yet another example of the press “adjusting” football players statements.

 

PSG draw again

As was the case last season, big things are expected of Carlo Ancelotti’s big-spending side, but for the third game running they were forced to settle for just a point.

Their fans made sure it was known they were not happy, though, sending their players back to the dressing rooms with the catcalls ringing in their ears as Bordeaux remained unbeaten and moved on to seven points.

With an embarrassment of riches at their disposal it is easy to see why PSG are so fancied and, one of the kingpins, summer signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, had the first chance when he took on a 25th-minute lob that scraped wide.

Nene and Javier Pastore then combined with the former feeding the latter who drew a save out of Cedric Carasso.

But Bordeaux were not in Paris just to roll over and, with two wins from two behind them, had the confidence to take the game to their opponents, with Henri Saivet’s effort being blocked by Salvatore Sirigu.

Nene did his best once more to break the deadlock before the break, drawing another stop out of Carasso, but it was Bordeaux who started the second half the better with Saivet’s crisp volley being blocked by Alex.

It was anyone’s game and sensing the moment was theirs PSG went on the attack, with Jeremy Menez testing Carasso and Ibrahimovic shaving the woodwork with a shot on the turn.

There would be no grand finale for PSG, though, and it was Bordeaux who finished the stronger, with Alex again the obstacle as he got in the way of Cheick Diabate’s late strike.

Ancelotti eyes French title

The Italian is overseeing the transformation of the club under mega-rich Qatari owners who would like to establish the club as the best team in Europe.

His side missed out on the Ligue 1 title by three points last season to Montpellier despite being top when he took over during the winter break.

And despite spending heavily on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Moura this summer, the Italian has put being crowned kings of Europe on the back burner, insisting domestic success is the number one target.

“We cannot afford not to win the Ligue 1 title which is our priority,” he told La Gazzetta dello sport. “But no one knows what we will do in the Champions League.

“We want to go forward as much as possible, but much will depend on the draw. In two or three years we could make it into the last four teams. When you are in the semi-finals anything can happen.”

The size of the task is not lost on Ancelotti, who won a league and cup double with Chelsea in his first season in charge.

He was sacked, though, at the end of the next season despite finishing second in the Premier League – blamed chiefly on his failure in Europe’s elite competition.

Perfect machine

Ancelotti, though, knows what it takes to win the competition as he was a two-time Champions League winner during his decade-long spell at Milan and is backing Barcelona to win the competition this season despite having a new manager in Tito Vilanova following Pep Guardiola’s resignation.

“Barcelona is a perfect machine,” he added. “They remain the team to beat, even with the uncertainty over Vilanova.

“For Chelsea this will be a year of transition as it is very hard to win the cup again. They have signed interesting players like Eden Hazard, but they have lost Didier Drogba.

“Real Madrid will be stronger with Luka Modric. He was too expensive for us.

“Manchester United look much better with Robin van Persie and I am waiting for the bang on the transfer market by Manchester city who tried to sign Thiago Silva.”

Ligue 1 round-up

Lorient were 1-0 winners at PSG in the opening round of games last year and they were gifted the perfect start this time around as Maxwell put through his own goal in the second minute from a Kevin Monnet-Paquet cross.

The Brittany club scored a second in first-half injury time as Jeremie Aliadiere eluded a series of PSG tackles before slotting past Nicolas Douchez.

Sweden striker Ibrahimovic pulled one back with a close-range finish in the 63rd minute and tucked away a penalty with two minutes left after Gregory Bourillon was red carded after tripping Blaise Matuidi.

It was a shaky start for Carlo Ancelotti’s men after a summer of major transfer activity which saw Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva drafted in from AC Milan and Ezequiel Lavezzi brought in from Napoli.

Lyon opened their Ligue 1 campaign with a win after battling past a Rennes side who played more than half of the game with 10 men.

Yoann Gourcuff grabbed the winner for the visitors after 15 minutes and Rennes put themselves at a distinct disadvantage when Jires Kembo-Ekoko was sent off in the 30th minute.

Ludovik Obraniak, Yoan Gouffran and Henri Saivet found the target for Bordeaux in their 3-2 victory over Evian, who had Daniel Wass and Saber Khelifa on the scoresheet for them.

There was another five-goal thriller as Toifilou Maoulida struck twice and Anthony Modeste also scored in Bastia’s 3-2 win away to Sochaux. Sloan Privat and Thierry Doubai netted for the hosts.

A last-minute goal from Benoit Pedretti sealed a 2-1 victory for Lille against St Etienne after Aurelien Chedjou’s opener had been cancelled out by Romain Hamouma, while Yohan Mollo scored the decisive goal as Nancy beat Brest 1-0.

Eduardo netted the winner for ten-man Ajaccio against Nice, while a Rincon own goal saw Troyes open their campaign with a 1-0 defeat at home to Valenciennes.