Zlatan Ibrahimovic: PSG ready to reap reward of Ibracadabra’s brilliant failure

On the 72th minute mark in Sweden’s World Cup play-off 2nd leg with Portugal, Zlatan Ibrahimovic had just struck back in his titanic individual battle with Ronaldo, driving a free-kick low and beyond the Portuguese wall, whizzing past Rui Patricio before the goalkeeper could even get down.

He had scored a header four minutes previously to equalise on the night and half the tie’s deficit, Ibrahimovic would have been forgiven, as he surveyed the Friends Arena in Solna that was awash with adulation for their captain, for massaging his already meteoric ego.

“You bought a Ferrari but drove it like a Fiat” he told Barcelona after he had left for AC Milan and here he was, showing his class and backing up such unbelievable arrogance. He had single-handedly dragged his country back into the ascendancy and within a single goal of World Cup qualification, this was a time when his narcissism could be revelled in.

Though Ronaldo had other ideas, seizing the beacon of wondrous footballing ability on show that night, as he ran home 2 more goals to complete a majestic hat-trick which sent Portugal to Brazil.

Ibrahimovic looked on in bewilderment, aware that he would have to witness next summer’s show-piece from a distance. A notable absence from a tournament that attracts the very best, company that he has repeatedly shown he is a part of. Though his self-admiration remained unmoved, “A World Cup without me is nothing to watch so it is not worthwhile to wait for the World Cup” he proclaimed.

He is probably correct. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo inhabit a separate footballing plateau while Franck Ribery made a solid case for the Ballon D’Or before the Portuguese captain all-but secured it on Tuesday, though Ibrahimovic represents compulsive viewing.

“I save my energy so I can burst out with fast aggressive moves” he says in his autobiography, carrying the aptly self-effacing title “I am Zlatan”, and he does it often, lurking in the periphery of games before striking with a venomous display of his wonderful technique and power.

As a result, many perceive him in England to be an inconsistent flashbulb footballer, possessing class but showing it only sporadically, only when he fancies it. That however, would be a gross misjudgment of a player who has won titles in Italy, Spain, Holland and France, scoring 280 goals along the way.

49 of that tally have come at Paris St Germain, the French club he heads back to after his duty with Sweden in the aim of forgetting his personal disappointment of Tuesday night. “I talked to him yesterday and his behaviour and his state of mind was very good” said his manager Laurent Blanc, “Certainly he must be disappointed, but regarding his behaviour and state of mind, I find it very good”.

Blanc will be hoping he can continue, beginning with a trip to Reims on Saturday, his electric goal-scoring form that has seen the Swede net 21 goals in 19 games so far this season. PSG remain unbeaten at the summit of Ligue 1, clear by 4 points and boasting the most prolific attack with 27 goals, and comfortably into the next stage of the Champions League after his individual brilliance swept aside Anderlecht in Brussels.

On top of the 35 he hit last year to fire PSG to their first French title since 1994, he has repaid every penny of the 20 million Euros the Qatari-owned club paid for his services in the summer of 2012. In his first 5 games in the French capital he hit 7 goals, leading Jean Pierre-Papin to say he was from “another planet”. “We haven’t had a goalscorer like him in France for years”, he said, rather setting the tone for Ibrahimovic’s time in Ligue 1.

The Swede is not just a goalscorer either, instead graceful in the touch enough to provide 3 assists so far this season and another 22 chances created. A mammoth tally of 85 shots attempted suggests a striker of unyielding confidence and ambition, utilising hubris as his biggest motivator in the belief anything he tries will come off spectacularly.

He will only recoup more of that 20 million Euro fee if he can, together with Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Blaise Matuidi, use his unstoppable form to fire the Red and Blues into the latter stages of the Champions League. It would certainly be a way of leaving an abiding memory in the public as they prepare to set eyes on Brazil next summer.

There is a reason why that fee saw Ibrahimovic surpass Nicolas Anelka as the most expensive footballer in terms of combined transfers just as there was a reason why, on the eve of the World Cup play-off there was a projected image of Sweden’s talismanic striker beamed onto a building in Stockholm.

It was he, arms wide, like Sweden’s messiah, akin to the sculpture of Jesus Christ the Redeemer that looks down on Rio. Ibrahimovic’s arrogance means he will be the worshipped figure that looks distantly on to the hub of next year’s tournament.

His absence will be of detriment to the world’s game, but of great benefit to PSG. With a determined Ibrahimovic leading the charge, they are realistic Champions League contenders.

 

Written by Adam Gray

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Marseille vs PSG: A highly anticipated Le Classique awaits

Le Presidente returns to the Stade Velodrome as manager of the Les Parisiens. 

When Laurent Blanc was chosen to replace Carlo Ancelotti, eyebrows were raised across France at Marseille. Tomorrow, it will be no different as high flying PSG come to the Velodrome to take on L’OM.

Both clubs enjoyed mixed fortunes in their European adventures in midweek with the Leaders of Ligue 1 thrashing Eusebio’s Benfica 3-0 and Marseille thumped by a Klopp-less Borussia Dortmund by the same scoreline. This will count for nothing when the first CLASSIQUE of the season gets underway.

Elie Baup’s men have done very well in the transfer market and the League season until this point. Despite contrasting fortunes in Europe, Les Phoceens lie just one point behind tomorrow’s visitors in the race for the title. They will hope to turnaround their recent results v the Parisiens which has seen them lose three of the last four games.

An Ibra double was cancelled out by a Pierre-Gignac brace last time out. A repeat of that will be the spectators’ dream.

Some players have come to the fore for both clubs this term. The likes of Gianelli Imbula, Alaixys Romao, Thiago Motta, Blaise Matuidi and Dimitri Payet have done themselves and their team proud in recent months. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has not hit scoring form yet.

This is because the burden of carrying the team has now been shared with Edinson Cavani who has outscored the Swedish Legend in the League thus far. That is not to say he is less important than he has always been. He assists and sacrifices for the team when he doesn’t score. But it could be said that he is not as ruthless in front of goal as he was last season. Carlos ‘EL GOLEADOR’ Bianchi’s record is still unbroken and Ibra has the mettle to create his.

The winner of this game might come down to who dominates the midfield. As the very well respected Jo-Jo said in his piece for ESPN, the trio of Verratti, Matuidi and Motta have to replicate the form they showed v the encarnados in midweek to have any chance of overpowering the IMBULA-ROMAO resistance.

In attack, Dimitri Payet, Florian Thauvin, the Ayew brothers and Andre Pierre-Gignac possess all that is required to cause the Alex-led defence problems. In fairness, PSG haven’ missed Thiago Silva until now. Marquinhos has not only comfortably replaced his more illustrious countryman, but also scored 3 goals in the last 5 games for his new club.

The all Brazilian central defensive pairing can only get better and Alex must improve to have any chance of being called upon when EL CAPITAN SILVA returns to the fold. Ibracadabra who celebrated his birthday this week, still doesn’t know Nic N’Koulou.

The Cameroonian was bullish about his chances of keeping the big Swde quiet when they first met last season…however, he failed in his attempts. Lucas Digne can’t get a look in at leftback because Maxwell has been virtually unplayable. GDW’s return to form and fitness has seen him recalled to the Netherlands squad for the first time in a year. The PSG rearguard is pretty rock solid.

Marseille can do with a better goal keeper in my opinion. Steve Mandanda might be a French international in his own right, but he is too shaky to take the club to the heights they dream of. In comparison with Salvatore Sirigu, he is a bloody amateur.

I liken Steve to Porto’s Helton who I am still at a loss as to how he still gets into that team even with all the managers that have been lured there in years gone by. Absolute disgrace of a goalie.

El Matador Cavani was conspicuously absent in the Benfica game. The scoring machine did nothing right against the Portuguese giants. A much better performance is needed if he is to remain first choice at the PdP.

In French football, there’s nothing greater than LA CLASSIQUE..not even Monaco v PSG..Tomorrow should raise the roof and steal the spotlight. Both teams are in the frame to challenge for CHAMPION OF LE CHAMPIONNAT!

 

PROBABLE LINEUPS

L’OM: Mandanda, N’Koulou, Mendy, Mendes, Fanni, Romao, Imbula, Valbuena, Payet, AYEW A, AYEW J.

I believe almost everyone in World Football knows what Valby can do. The man nicknamed ‘World’s shortest’ is probably the best playmaker in Ligue 1. Discount him at your own peril. Gignac has been misfiring of late, so his position has to be filled by the younger Jordan Ayew.

PSG: Sirigu, van der Weil, Marquinhos, Alex, Maxwell, Matuidi, Motta T, Verratti, Lavezzi, Cavani, IBRA.

 

Written by Ohireime Eboreime

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PSG: Cavani the next to join the crazy summer in France

On Monday, the long-awaited departure of Edinson Cavani from Napoli occurred as he was unveiled as the fourth most expensive player of all time with a move to Paris Saint Germain. The Qatari project at the French champions continuing apace with the Uruguayan’s £55 million transfer.

It was also just another day in the summer or lunacy that has been played out by the two richest clubs in Ligue 1, PSG and Monaco, who have between them spent £165 million on James Rodriguez, Joao Moutinho, Falcao and now Cavani. With three of that quartet heading to Monaco, PSG are to answer with moves for Lille left-back Lucas Digne and Roma centre-back Marquinhos for a combined £44 million. Like a chess match, Monaco are to reportedly answer that move with a mammoth €60 million deal for the Brazilian Hulk.

Quite where UEFA’s stance on Financial Fair Play, which has so far issued tough sanctions to Hajduk Split, Partizan Belgrade, NK Osijek and Malaga, has gone, remains to be seen. Frenchman Michel Platini seemingly willing to allow the two mega-rich Ligue 1 clubs through the loophole of sponsorship deals and positive projection of finances instead of entering the moral quandary of banning his own cubs from European competition.

PSG, a club who last year competed in the Champions League for the first time since 2004, have spent, up to €222 million as they sailed to their first French league title since 1994. As they defend it, they will be challenged intently by Monaco who have risen from Ligue 2 where they have spent two years since their relegation from the top tier in 2011.

The principality club have not won a trophy since their Coupe De Ligue triumph in 2003, their last league title coming at the turn of the millennium, but such barrenness is certain to end with the relentless spending of Russian Dmitriy Rybovlev, operating in a tax-free haven, and the goals of Falcao. PSG do not share the same luxury of being able to afford their stars wages free of tax, but they will have the goals of Edinson Cavani in answer to Monaco’s prolific Colombian.

With Cristiano Ronaldo flexing his imperious muscular strength on the left side of Madrid’s attack and Lionel Messi creating whole new positions with his withdrawn forward role at Barcelona, French football now houses arguably the three best centre-forwards in the world, with the two imports joining Zlatan Ibrahimovic, scorer of 35 goals last season. Cavani will link-up directly with the Swede in what will be a mouthwatering strike-force able to compete both domestically and on the continent.

Cavani arrives in the French capital with a scintillating scoring record of 104 goals in 138 games with Napoli, who ultimately fell short of providing him with his ambition of sustained silverware, the Coppa Italia of 2012 his only trophy since leaving Uruguay in 2006. His robust physical strength, electric pace and unerring finish striking up a reputation for one of the most feared strikers in Europe. El Matador is the nickname, encapsulating his flamboyance, yet cold-blooded lack of fear on the pitch.

At PSG he will fit into an embarrassment of riches that new manager Laurent Blanc finds at his disposal. Ibrahimovic is already in place and scoring for fun, whilst Ezequiel Lavezzi, whom Cavani spent three years with at Napoli, is primed to build on an impressive first season at the Parc Des Princes. If that is not firepower enough, Javier Pastore, Jeremy Menez and Lucas Moura will provide the support and drive from deep.

PSG, ultimately undone by Barcelona in the quarter finals of last season’s Champions League, have intensified their spending and are back, ready to go further on the biggest stage as well as launch a period of sustained dominance domestically. With Cavani, there is little doubt that can be achieved.

On the latter objective however, they will face competition from their fellow huge spenders Monaco who are likely to partner them in a two-sided hegemony over French football for the foreseeable future. With their squads spearheaded by the imperious £55 million Cavani and the £51 million Falcao, two of the most deadly modern strikers, it will take far more than major investment from a separate club to split the duopoly of PSG and Monaco over in France.

But it’s all Financial Fair Play though, isn’t it?

 

Written by Adam Gray

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Ligue 1: 2012/13 Team of the Season

It was another fine season in Le Championnat, with various stories, headlines, sub-plots and the customary English media infatuation with David Beckham and Joey Barton crossing the channel to ply their trade with Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille respectively.

While neither – and especially the latter – will feature in the team of the year, the 11 chosen here have excelled in what was a seriously competitive league season, won by PSG who ended the stubborn challenge of OM to win a first Ligue 1 title since 1994.

Elsewhere, Nice shrugged off their strugglers tag, capitalising on a few shrewd transfer dealings to stun Lille, previous champions Montpellier and Saint-Etienne to finish fourth, agonisingly below the Champions League spots.

And there were new stars, the resurgence of old stars, and a couple of young gems that emerged. There could’ve been about 20-25 players shortlisted here for Team of the Year – a testament to the ever-improving quality of football in Ligue 1.

 

Goalkeeper

Steve Mandanda (Marseille) – The OM captain narrowly holds off the challenge of PSG goalkeeper Sirigu for me. At times highlighting his world-class ability, while at other times criticised for a string of errors, Mandanda has matured well over the season, and in my opinion, in the top ten goalkeepers in Europe.

He single-handedly kept OM in the title race at times, whilst the club’s run of not conceding a goal in seven matches in March-April highlights his ability between the sticks.

 

Defenders

Sebastien Corchia (Sochaux) – Another alternative pick here. Christophe Jallet, Francois Clerc and Rod Fanni might’ve excelled at the big clubs, but Corchia remains a shining light in a Sochaux side that flirted with relegation for much of the season.

A supreme presence on the flank, the U-21 captain was instrumental in the fight to avoid the drop. A summer move to Lyon beckons.

 

Nicolas N-Koulou (Marseille) – the former Monaco star has starred for the club this season, and has turned into one of the hottest properties in France. The second best defender in the league after Thiago Silva, N’Koulou’s solid defending and great positioning has seen other clubs take notice of his talents.

Unlikely to leave the club, but expect even better next season.

 

Thiago Silva (PSG) – Joined Ligue 1 from AC Milan in a surprise move last summer, but Thiago Silva has shown exactly why he’s regarded as the best centre-back in the world. The rock at the back for les Parisiens, Thiago was at times the only one with a cool head when others around him were on self-destruct mode.

Earned the captaincy, and the 27-year-old has rarely looked back since.

 

Lucas Digne (Lille) – Another young starlet who has performed at a level which belies his young age. A great player in the making on the left flank, with a series of assured performances.

Unlikely to remain at the club with PSG and Monaco swooping overhead.

 

Midfielders

Blaise Matuidi (PSG) - One of the best players at PSG this season, and arguably the most important at the side, after Sirigu and Ibrahimovic.

A fantastic midfielder who highlighted his goalscoring and creative abilities on many an occasion this year.

 

Florian Thauvin (Bastia, Lille) – Another revelation this term. The 20-year-old was officially named the Young Player of the Year and was the subject of a €3.5m bid from Lille, who immediately loaned him back to the Corsican club.

A fine youngster, whose creativity and attacking instinct saw Bastia pummel mid-table sides and score some surprising results.

Linked well with Anthony Modeste, and even went on a run of four games in a row scoring braces.

 

Mathieu Valbuena (OM) – Valbuena’s performances are generally linked with OM’s successes, and it’s no surprise that once ‘Le Petit Velo’ is firing on all cylinders, the team is generally flying high.

A tricky customer, who was the team’s driving force for most of the season, Valbuena posted a league high 12 assists this campaign.

Complemented his club form by becoming France’s most important player in 2012-13.

 

Dimitri Payet (Lille) – The Reunion-born winger starred for Lille with a number of impressive displays, which unfortunately, were not enough to qualify for Europe this campaign.

Notched up a fine tally of 12 goals and 12 assists – one of the few players in Europe to hit double figures in both respects.

 

Forwards

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG) – Who else? The driving force behind PSG’s championship victory. Got going from the off in the controversial 2-2 draw v Lorient on matchday one, with his goals alone worth 14 points for PSG, who would’ve lost the title without his input.

At times, endured difficult moments, but Ibra has been rightly regarded as a revelation since his move from Milan.

 

Pierre Aubameyang (Saint-Etienne) – Holds off the challenge of Dario Cvitanich of Nice, the signing of the season, to feature in the Team of the Year. This season has been the campaign Aubameyang yearned for, the one where his star really takes off.

19 goals, second only to Ibrahimovic, the lanky Gabonese striker was in red-hot form, especially in the second half of the season to propel ASSE to a league cup triumph.

Will probably leave Ligue 1 for Dortmund, but it has been one hell of a year for the striker.

 

Honourable Mentions: Stephane Ruffier, Christophe Jallet, Josuha Guilavogui, Romain Alessandrini, Jeremie Aliadiere, Didier Digard.

 

Written by Mohammed Ali

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David Beckham: 5 Things We’ll Miss About Becks Upon His Retirement

The news earlier this year that David Beckham was retiring was not unexpected; the bloke is 38 years old after all, and he’s been playing for some two decades. That can tire a guy out, not to mention the fact that he’s busy with a modeling career on the side.

Still, while Beckham certainly was not in the prime of his career anymore, he will be dearly missed by the global football community.

Here are six things we’ll miss about David Beckham.

 

1- The Way He Bends the Ball

The movie title (“Bend it Like Beckham) says it all. No one could bend a football better than the longtime English national team player.

He’s able to boot sinkers and curve balls in a way no one else can, a whiz with his foot in the same way Cy Young winners are a wiz with the arm.

 

2- The Slight Confusion

Beckham was always a great player on the field but off he sometimes seemed a little slow, whether he was talking to reporters or going on a charitable visit to an alcoholism recovery center.

And some of his fashion choices made people do a doubletake – this was, after all, a man who made his reputation as much on what sort of leather pants he wore as how well he dribbled the ball. With Beckham no longer in the spotlight, his endearing dopiness will be missed.

 

3- The Free Kicks

There’s nothing quite like a David Beckham free kick. They were things of beauty – arching high toward the goal and making opposing keepers quiver in their cleats.

 

4- The Crazy Shots From Midfield

Sometimes when watching Beckham it was easy to want to scream at the television screen, “What were you thinking?” He’d take shots from way too far away but sometimes they’d go into the goal. And that would only encourage him to do it again.

When it worked, it was amazing.

 

5- The Power Couple

It’s probably too soon to tell if Becks and Posh Spice, aka wife Victoria Beckham, will choose a life of quiet reflection, swearing off their Hollywood ways, now that he’s retiring.

But at the very least his profile will drop, which will eventually knock them from the list of high-powered celebrity couples.

 

Written by Michael Deaven

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PSG: A Guide To Their Legendary Home – Parc Des Princes

Paris attractions have tempted visitors to the city for decades. More recent additions to an already very long list of ancient monuments and other Parisian attractions are the likes Disney World and the Parc de Prince stadium.

The stadium was built to replace the old Vélodrome built in 1897 which stood on this impressive site till the Parc was built. Today, major football (such as Paris st Germain home games) and rugby matches take place at the Parc and then there are the concerts!

George Pompidou, the then president, opened the Parc des Prince on 4th June 1972 with the first match ever to be played on these hallowed grounds being the Coupe de France final, a match played between SC Bastia and Olympique de Marseille – which the latter won. The stadium was filled to capacity – the whole 48,527 seats.

Parc de Prince - Paris

 

A Stadium That Won Awards

The Architecture was considered very Avant garde winning both the building and the architect many prizes. Roger Taillibert was the Architect; the 50 concrete columns supporting the roof were his brainchild and the reason why so many architectural awards were won.

 

Getting to the Parc

Getting to the Parc by Metro is easily done – the stop to get out at is the Porte de Saint-Cloud station from line 9 – the stadium is just a five minute walk from there. From central Paris, line 9 goes through the city centre – on the north bank.

By bus from the centre of Paris, there’s a choice of three, the 22, 62 and 72 which go to Porte de Saint-Cloud. The actual address of the Parc des Princes is 24, Rue du Commandant Guilbaud, 75781 Paris.

 

Where to Stay & Where Eat

The neighbourhood around the Parc has a typical Parisian ambiance with many bars and brasseries on most of the street corners – as per usual, the food served is very good.

Hotel wise there are many in the vicinity of the Parc. However, it might not be a good idea to stay too close because of the inevitable noise from the stadium. However, with two metro lines close by, it is easy to get into the centre of town without any effort or trouble.

Full capacity at the Parc

 

How to purchase Tickets

You can buy tickets for PSG games by going online or you can call the stadium directly. Another method is at the stadium itself from any of the PSG service points. The cost of a ticket can range from anything between €20.00 to €100.00.

 

Conclusion

Organised tours around the Parc last around an hour and includes being taken through the dressing rooms, players’ tunnel where many a famous sportsman has tread. Visitors also get to see the VIP boxes and admire the fabulous cups and shields in the trophy room. For air travel it’s important to do some flight comparison checks to make sure you get the best deals.

Tours are organised three times a week, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. They start at 3pm, 4pm and 5pm although occasionally there’s a guided tour organised for 6pm.

Tours take place every day during the school holidays except Sundays. However, there are no tours on match days or the day before. The great thing is you don’t have to pre-book but it is possible. You can book tickets at the PSG shop on the Champs- Élysées or you can opt to do this at the stadium.

The cost of a guided tour around the Parc des Princes is €10.00. It’s a great way to get a real feel of the place which is pretty impressive to say the least – especially when the stadium’s empty.

 

Featured images:

 

Written by Nathan Griffiths who is a sports enthusiast and loves travelling to Paris.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic: A Ligue 1 Revelation

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The football enigma that is Zlatan Ibrahimovic raised a few eyebrows when talk materialised over the summer, that the Swedish striker – typically regarded as one of the finest in the world, and a one-time player of esteemed sides such as Inter, Barcelona and Juventus – would be set to quit AC Milan for the Qatari-rich project of Paris Saint-Germain, and the rather less alluring nature of Ligue 1.

‘PSG have already won the title’ – ‘Ibra is just going for the money’ were the nonsensical chants emanating from the Twittersphere, but soon after he completed his €20million move to the French capital, Ibrahimovic had at least (and as expected) begun to turn heads in Le Championnat.

Soon after sealing his transfer, did the 31-year-old quip: “It’s true I don’t know that much about Ligue 1, but Ligue 1 knows who I am.” – and that it was on matchday one, as FC Lorient rolled into town – aiming to put a dent on the Ibrahimovic bandwagon, and aiming to replicate their shock win at the Parc des Princes in 2011. That they did as Les Merlus raced into a stunning 2-0 lead, leaving many to lambast Carlo Ancelotti’s side as just another petty plaything of the oil-rich Middle Eastern nation. Enter Zlatan.

The Swede announced his arrival with two goals on his league debut. Firing low past Fabien Audard, and ensuring a thrilling start to the season with a late, late penalty to hand PSG a scarcely-deserved point. It was all about Ibrahimovic, the impact had been instant.

After a month, Ibrahimovic had scored all but one of PSG’s goals in five games – even missing one due to a knock. Les Parisiens had become necessarily a one-man team, lacking a certain substance in attack – despite having Kevin Gameiro, Guillaume Hoarau, Nene, Javier Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Jeremy Menez up front.

Ibra had re-invigorated a lagging PSG side with his goals, as match-winning doubles against Lille and Bastia, as well as further strikes against Toulouse ensured that Ancelotti’s men rose in the Ligue 1 table. His playing style perfectly suited the capital club. The former Milan striker would appear isolated up front, but one or two fantastic touches of the ball would bamboozle defenders (normally more physical in this division) – and of course, everyone would know what would come next.

Nevertheless, the 31-year-old’s crowning match came in the Clasico derby against fierce rivals Olympique de Marseille. After PSG surprisingly fell behind through Andre-Pierre Gignac’s well-measured strike, Zlatan would respond with two of the most fantastic goals of the season. Firstly, he rose ahead of a static Marseillais defence to karate kick the ball into the net, past a confused Steve Mandanda, before minutes later putting the visitors in front with a delicious long-range free-kick.

His international stature was well documented, but even by Zlatan’s standards his Ligue 1 form had been rather surprising against rearguards which were perceived in European football as too defensive, too physical and unlike the builds seen in Spain, England or Germany.

It would be more bewildering in his last two games (prior to Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv) that Ibrahimovic had altered his playing style by dropping deeper to fashion and instigate opportunities for his team-mates, rather than stay up front and linger outside of defences. Result? Four assists in PSG’s demolition of Zagreb. That very week, he notched all four goals against England in the first ever game at Rasunda.

With Ibra, PSG ballooned to the top of the Ligue 1 standings. How important is he? Without his goals, les Parisiens would be a mammoth 12 points worse off, enough to place them in mid-table. Are PSG “Ibra-dependent”? Maybe, as his two-match suspension proved after he kicked out at Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier.

But no-one, and not even an ardent Marseille fan like myself can deny – Ibrahimovic has not only been a revelation for PSG, but also for Ligue 1. Long may it continue.

 

Written by Mohammed Ali

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Champions League: Matchday 3 Preview – Part 2

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Group A

Porto v Dynamo Kiev

After a huge win at home to PSG in their most recent Champions League encounter, Porto will host the Ukrainian side Dynamo Kiev hoping to make it nine points from nine. However, Dynamo Kiev will be looking to take all three points after they lost to PSG in match day one 4-1.

Their win at home to Dinamo Zagreb last time out will give the Ukrainian side hope, but to get something from this game will be the desire of their coach Oleh Blokin.

Key clash: João Moutinho v Miguel Veloso

 

Dinamo Zagreb v PSG

Super rich Paris Saint Germain’s second away game in Europe this season will take them to Zagreb as the face Croatian champions, Zagreb.

PSG haven’t won away in the Champions League since 1998, but with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi in their ranks, they’ll expect to get all three points and recover from their disappointing 1-0 loss against Porto last time out. Zagreb will have to get a result here, having lost both their opening games.

Key clash: Josip Simunic v Zlatan Ibrahimovic

 

Group B

Arsenal v Schalke 04

When the Champions League group stage draw was conducted, many expected these two teams to comfortably progress to the knockout stages. However after Schalke’s disappointing 2-2 draw against Montpellier, the group is looking quite tight.

After Schalke’s 2-1 win away at Dortmund this past weekend, and Arsenal’s 1-0 loss to Norwich, this game could be an unpredictable one. Expect fireworks.

Key clash: Oliver Giroud v Benedikt Höwedes

 

Montpellier v Olympiakos

With two games gone both these sides have work to do if they want to progress to the round of 16. Montpellier’s 2-2 draw away at

Schalke however has given the French champions hope, especially considering how well they played against Arsenal in a 2-1 loss first time out.

With both teams looking to win, this should be an interesting one.

Key clash: Konstantinos Mitroglou vs. Hilton

 

Malaga v AC Milan

An emphatic 3-0 destruction of Zenit St Petersburg on match day one surprised many at just how good Malaga can be. Away at Anderlecht, Malaga put in another solid performance winning 2-0 leading to many calling them favourites to get through group C.

European giants AC Milan currently have 4 points and are slowly improving after a poor start to their Serie A campaign.

With the exciting Malaga side hosting the experienced and adjusting Milan side this game could well be one of the best of match day three.

Key clash: Martin Demechelis v Robinho

 

Zenit St. Petersburg v Anderlecht

Pre match day one, there was a certain level of expectation surrounding Zenit St. Petersburg, heightened by their signing of powerful Brazilian striker Hulk. But with the Russian champions having lost both their Champions League games this season, this game at home to Anderlecht is essentially a must win.

The Belgian champions got an impressive 0-0 draw at the San Siro first time out but lost at home to Malaga, meaning they’ll need to try and win this.

Key clash: Hulk v Cheikhou Kouyaté

 

Group D

Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid

An excellent and fearless away performance away at Manchester City mean Borussia Dortmund will be going into this fixture with plenty of encouragement about their Champions League hopes.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid are now back to their best after a slow start to their La Liga campaign. They have won both their Champions League fixtures so far too so they are in a great position to qualify from the “group of death”.

With Dortmund being the German champions and Real Madrid being the Spanish champions, this is a dream match that I’m personally very excited about.

Key clash: Mario Götze v Sami Khedira

 

Ajax v Manchester City

The always united and determined Ajax will represent a tough challenge for the Premier League champions as they travel to Amsterdam needing three points to get their so far disappointing Champions League campaign back on track.

Having lost both of their games so far, the Dutch champions are also needing a win or it could be a swift exit for Ajax.

Key clash: Christian Eriksen v Vincent Kompany

 

Written by Joshua Sodergren

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PSG- On a Mission to Conquer France and Europe

Ibra with the PSG jersey

When the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) TOOK OVER the reins at the Capital club, changes were expected.. How quick and rapid the changes would be was the main thing. Represented by President Al-Khelaifi, they haven’t at all disappointed. In actual fact, Europe is in awe at what can be described as power changing hands.

Last season, the Parisiens brought in former Inter and AC Milan manager, Leonardo to become Sports Director at the club where he once plied his trade as a player. The Brazilian has done well thus far, convincing the likes of Javier Pastore, Salvatore Sirigu, Thiago Motta, Momo Sissoko, etc to join the ambitious outfit.

Last season wasn’t exactly a smooth sail. Rene Girard and Montpellier surprisingly won the League against all odds with the likes of Younes Belhanda, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Oliver Giroud catching the eye, with the latter now wearing the famous red shirt of Arsenal. Before then, Antoine Kombouare had been shown the exit door and seasoned coach, Carlo Ancelotti was brought in to captain the ship. Coming 2nd and exiting the Europa League early was something that didn’t go down well with the Qatari billionaires. Instead of ringing the changes in the coaching department, they decided to recruit some of the best footballers on the planet.

It came initially as a speculation that PSG signified interest in Milan’s 2 most important treasures, ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC AND THIAGO SILVA. However, rumours became true when it was reported that Silvio Berlusconi (Milan Owner) had rejected a bid in the region of 60 million euros for the aforementioned pair. Senior figures and players in the Milanese club applauded the decision and it was believed that the case was now a foregone conclusion.

But in a complete turnaround likened to a ‘NEVER SAY NEVER’ scenario, media houses all over the world went haywire with the news that Milan and Berlusconi had indeed gone back on their decision and of course accepted to sell Ibra and T.Silva to PSG subject to medical examinations and personal terms agreements. Thiago Silva reportedly signed his contract at a hotel in Rio d’Janeiro. The deal to take Ibrahimovic and Silva to the Parc de Princes was in the region of 51 million pounds. Football aficionados and pundits alike lambasted Milan for allowing such a painful sale. Milan fans were filled with uncontrollable rage and despair, understandable given the importance and status of the duo within the Rossoneri.

PSG also stormed the city of Naples earlier in the transfer window to nab Argentine star, Ezequiel Lavezzi from under the nose of Film Production mogul and Napoli Owner, Aurelio de Laurentiis. The man had no choice but to let his prized asset ‘El Pocho’ Lavezzi depart the Neapolitan club for Paris for a fee of about 30 million Euros. They were not done with the Serie A yet. Promising Pescara playmaker, Marco Verratti was lured to the Parc for another 12-15 million Euros. Dutch first choice right back and Ajax ace, Gregory Van Der Wiel joined the French club for a reported 6-9 million Euros (by far the cheapest transfer fee).

Ambition is a very important ingredient of success. PSG have made a statement of intent and purpose with the signings they have made in the past 2 years. Imagine a squad comprising of Sirigu, Maxwell, Thiago Silva. Alex,Lugano, Mama Sakho, Matuidi, Bodmer, Ibra, Lavezzi, ‘El Flaco’ Pastore, Menez, Nene, Jallet, Motta, Verratti, Gameiro, Hoarau, Tiene , etc. No matter how much confidence other European heavyweights have, they must be well aware that the Parisiens have come to mount a serious challenge on all titles on offer.

Sports Director, Leonardo Nascimento de Araujo aka ‘Leonardo’ whose 43rd birthday is today, has been spot on regarding the club’s transfers so far. Although Javier Pastore (40 million euro signing from Palermo) did not live up to expectations last season, everyone is well aware of his exceptional talent and he is quite young. There’s still a lot of time for him to light up Ligue 1 and the World.

In Adrien Rabiot, PSG have a young, brilliant and promising teenage prospect who will be given chances to shine by Coach Carlo. The bench also has Claude Makelele who’s one of the best footballers to grace the pitch and will give expert opinion to the likes of Matuidi and Sissoko who already have bags of it.

The summer spending spree of the Parisisn side shows that they intend to gatecrash into places where angels dare to tread. It wouldn’t be a thing of amazement if they win Ligue 1 for years and years on end.

In Zlatan Ibrahimovic, they possess a man who knows how to win. The former Ajax, Juve, Barca, Milan, Inter and Malmo striker is one of the best footballers in the world at the moment and he can go on to become an all time great at the capital club if he repeats the heroics he has shown at previous places of employ. If he scores goals, he’ll be put in the same bracket as Pauleta and Carlos Bianchi (The latter scored 71 goals in 80 matches for la Parisien), two of Ligue 1’s finest ever strikers.

WATCH OUT FOR THE MEGA RICH PARIS CLUB THIS SEASON…..ICI C’EST PARIS!

 

Written by Ohireime Eboreime

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