PSG looking to bounce back against Dinamo Zagreb


PARIS (AP) -After slipping to its first loss of the French league season, Paris Saint-Germain has the ideal opportunity to bounce back Tuesday against a Dinamo Zagreb team that has lost its past nine Champions League games.

Porto is unbeaten this season and needs to draw at Dynamo Kiev to qualify for the knockout stages, which it has not missed since the 2005-06 season.

While PSG lost 2-1 to Saint-Etienne on Saturday, Porto thrashed Maritimo 5-0 with an attacking display coach Vitor Pereira hailed as near perfect.

"I can say we had an exceptional performance, like the one that allowed us to beat Paris Saint-Germain," Pereira said of the 1-0 win on Oct. 3. "I expect better things because we haven't won anything yet. It's all part of a natural growth. I hope that we will have bigger things to celebrate this year."

Colombian winger James Rodriguez scored twice against Maritimo and believes Porto can keep its run going in Kiev.

"We want to keep up our high level so far," Rodriguez said. "We're in good form. We're working very well together and playing nice football, keeping a lot of possession."

But Porto struggled to beat a resilient Dynamo side 3-2 two weeks ago, and the Kiev trip could prove one of the toughest in Group A, particularly as Pereira has injury worries.

Brazilian defender Maicon (right ankle) and midfielder Fernando (right calf) are injured and could be replaced in Kiev by Rolando and Juan Iturbe.

"I still don't know how severe the injuries are," Pereira said. "I will see that soon and find solutions, if needed. The squad has quality."

PSG won 2-0 at Dinamo against a team without a single goal in the competition and struggling for confidence.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti is sweating on the fitness of central midfielder Blaise Matuidi, who took a heavy knock to his thigh on Saturday. Midfielder Clement Chantome and striker Kevin Gameiro are ruled out through injury, but 12-goal top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic will lead the attack against a team that conceded 22 times in last season's group stage - a record for the competition.

"After (Lionel) Messi, Ibrahimovic is sure to be the best striker in Europe," said Dinamo defener Domagoj Vida, who will have the task of marking the imposing Swede at Parc des Princes. "He knows everything, including elbow kicks when referees are not watching."

On Saturday, Ibrahimovic, who is a Taekwondo expert, was sent off for a martial arts-style kick to the chest of Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier as he challenged for a long ball.

Without their talismanic forward on the field, the rest of the team struggled against Saint-Etienne, underlining suggestions PSG is overly reliant on Ibrahimovic.

No Dinamo fans will attend the match with the French Interior Ministry having issued a decree banning them amid fears of clashes with PSG hooligans. The Interior Minstry said Sunday that about "150 to 200 violent supporters, known as Bad Blue Boys" were intent on coming to Paris.

The decision comes after PSG declined to provide travel support for its supporters in Zagreb two weeks ago after consulting with UEFA. Border police stopped 80 PSG hooligans from crossing into Croatia from Slovenia with cars they had rented from Italy.

Hooliganism has been rife among a section of hardcore PSG supporters since 1985, until a massive crackdown by the club following the deaths of one supporter in 2006 and another in 2010.

Dynamo, meanwhile, beat Tavria Simferopol 2-0 in the Ukrainian league on Saturday. But the fans are unhappy at being 14 points behind league leader Shakhtar Donetsk, and two points behind second place Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.

"I'd like to ask for the fans' support, that's very important for us. It's embarrassing to read what fans say on Internet forums, although they're supposed to be our supporters," striker Andriy Yarmolenko said. "I only want to say that a real fan supports a team through the good and bad times. There are also troubling times and this when we need fan support in the stands."

Goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovsky didn't play on Saturday, but is expected to be back to face Porto's rampant attack.

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.

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