“It’s more than a dream! For me, it’s destiny”. Those are the words of Zlatan Ibrahimovic who goes up against the club where it all began for him, Malmo. The veteran who is more than likely embarking on his final season with Paris Saint-Germain (perhaps even in European football) has an opportunity for a swansong against his native club.
There was no way he was going to miss this. Even though he has been struggling with injury since the start of the season – including an abdominal complaint whilst on international duty – he has done everything since to be fit. He is in the squad along with all the big hitters for this opening Champions League group game. The only notable absentee is Serge Aurier which is a blow but gives Gregory Van der Wiel the opportunity to show his worth. Aurier has been a breath of fresh air down that right-hand side this season but as VDW proved with his assists in the 2013/14 UCL campaign, he is one to perform on these European nights. But, he needs to start proving it again!
Coach Laurent Blanc in his pre-match presser was bold with his words, claiming PSG will one day win a Champions League. As to when? Time will tell but it is good to hear the gaffer speak like that and you get a real sense of genuine belief from him and the players this season.
LB said yesterday; “Paris has never won the Champions League. The club will most certainly win it one day. When? We don’t know. But before thinking about winning the final, we need to win on Tuesday. We need to be 100%, even 120%, no matter who we’re playing against. We need to prepare this match like any big match in the Champions League. We need prepare every game the same way, no matter who we’re playing, with respect and humility, but with a strong desire to win.”
The Swedish champions will be making the most of this European adventure. It is almost certain that they will not be with Europe’s elite next season as they are nine points off leaders IFK Goteborg in the Allsvenskan. Ibra’s former club had to overcome Scottish champions Celtic in two spikey affairs during the play-offs to get to the group-stage. As the veteran said, it was if it was destiny that they would link up with Paris.
By the way, your eyes will not be playing tricks on you tomorrow night. The players, despite playing at home, will be wearing the all new third strip entitled the ‘Dark Light Kit’. It is a grand premier of the new strip which has caused quite a stir since its unveiling.