Laurent Blanc says Zlatan Ibrahimovic is desperate to prove a point against Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final second leg.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker missed a penalty and a one-on-one with Joe Hart in the first game in France, although he did equalise Kevin De Bruyne’s opener in the 2-2 draw by capitalising on Fernando’s error.
Blanc concedes it is a rarity to see the Sweden star spurn two such chances in a single match but has backed him to prove a point at the Etihad Stadium.
“You’re always surprised that he can miss chances to score. It happens in a career, in a match. Unfortunately for him, it happened in that game,” he said on Monday.
“But it was also he who scored our first. He’s a very diligent lad. He also has the heart to show something different.”
Looking back at the first leg as a whole, Blanc continued: “The players were aware that we didn’t play a great game, even if we were not dominated.
“We’ve analysed the first game and looked at some of the errors we made. We need to be more solid at the back. We are capable of qualifying but we know how difficult it will be. It is up to us to be more compact and impose ourselves.
“We need to score, we don’t have any choice. We’re well aware of that. The team that concedes the fewest goals will go through, because there will be goals.
“Tomorrow, we’ll need to be excellent in all areas to go through.”
Blanc is likewise confident that Angel Di Maria can replicate his best form when the former Manchester United winger returns to the north-west of England for the first time since last year’s transfer.
“Di Maria is under pressure, like everyone else,” Blanc added. “He came here to bring us quality and experience. He’s won the Champions League.
“He must show his best. You have to have the right motivation.”
Marquinhos’ agent was reported to have slammed Blanc’s treatment of the defender after he was left out of the first leg in favour of Serge Aurier, who had just returned from a club-imposed suspension.
Blanc, however, says he has not held talks with the player – who is heavily linked with Barcelona – over the matter or the prospect of increased involvement in the first team.
“I have not talked with Marquinhos. I don’t need to. The players who don’t start are always affected,” he added.
“He has more than helped out at right-back. But we had a choice, and I made it. He’s not happy, I can admit that. But if I have discussions with everyone, my days will be very long.”