PSG's dependence on Ibrahimovic becoming a concern


Paris Saint-Germain again looks to Zlatan Ibrahimovic for inspiration when it travels to Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League on Wednesday. The problem is that PSG is far too dependent on him.

The imposing Sweden striker has 10 goals since joining PSG, but has not scored in three of his last four games. Striker Kevin Gameiro was the next highest scorer with three, while three players have one goal each.

"Are we too dependent on Ibrahimovic? He's a player with a lot of qualities, so it's normal," PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "Teammates feel comfortable giving him the ball. I think it's a good thing to depend on him."

But Ibrahimovic looked lackluster in Saturday's scrappy 1-0 win against Reims in domestic action, and failed to score away to Porto three weeks ago, when PSG lost 1-0 and looked a long way from being a contender for European glory.

"The team isn't quite solid enough yet to be competitive in the Champions League," Ancelotti said. "For a lot of our players it was their first experience of the Champions League against Porto."

Porto tops Group A with six points and can tighten its grip by beating Dynamo Kiev.

PSG's only defeat so far this season was against Porto, and the players are keen to make amends.

"We're going (to Zagreb) to win," PSG left back Sylvain Armand said. "We need to keep picking up points, the road is still long."

Ancelotti has several players missing.

Brazilian Nene had an operation on Saturday after breaking his nose against Reims. Center half Mamadou Sakho and central midfielders Thiago Motta and Clement Chantome are also injured.

Dinamo has won its last two matches and is seven points clear at the top of the Croatian league.

PSG's defenders will need to keep an eye on rising star Alen Halilovic, a promising attacking midfielder who recently became the youngest scorer ever in the Croatian league at 16.

"It's a joy to watch a talent like Halilovic who already proved that he can be an excellent player as long as he continues to work," Dinamo coach Ante Cacic said.

Dinamo has lost both of its games in the Champions League and has not scored a goal, so Cacic is not overly confident.

"We will do our best to stage a surprise and anything but defeat would be a surprise," he said.

Center half Domagoj Vida warns against all-out attack against PSG, thinking it's better to soak up the pressure.

"We should be very careful and wait for the chance to come, either from the counterattack or any free kick near the penalty area," he said. "We all know that another early goal, as we conceded in Kiev in the last game, would be a huge setback."

PSG, meanwhile, has warned Croatian authorities that about 100 hooligans are rumored to be travelling to Zagreb without tickets.

PSG has already said it will not provide club travel for supporters because of security concerns. But the club issued another statement on Sunday, saying "a persistent rumor exists that 100 individuals known to be dangerous will travel independently to Zagreb for this match, which is classified as high risk by UEFA."

PSG has alerted the Croatian authorities to the threat, adding that "these people, overstepping the orders of the club, are in no way representative of Paris Saint-Germain."

Hooliganism was rife among a section of hardcore PSG supporters from 1985 to 2010. Dinamo Zagreb has a notorious hooligan element known as "BBB" (Bad Blue Boys).

Porto will look to maintain its strong home form against Dynamo. Coach Vitor Pereira's team has won every home match this season, but had to settle for a scrappy 1-0 win away to Santa Eulalia in the Portuguese Cup on Sunday.

Midfielder Danilo, who scored the only goal, thinks minds were already on facing Kiev.

"It is only natural, we have a big game on Wednesday," Danilo said.

Dynamo, meanwhile, is out of form and has lost its last two, and already trails Ukrainian league leader Shakhtar Donetsk by 12 points.

Dynamo is without several Brazilian players and coach Oleg Blokhin is ill.

Striker Raffael was injured on Saturday, while midfielder Dudu and defender Leandro Almeida are also sidelined.

Blokhin is recovering from an operation after being released from the hospital last week, so interim coach Oleksiy Mykhailychenko takes charge.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

Biggest Stories



Most Popular