Monday, July 24, 2017

Malmo v Paris Saint-Germain: Ibrahimovic relishing return to hometown club

SoccerNews in Ligue 1 23 Nov 2015

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic says he will do everything he can to enjoy his return to Malmo as Paris Saint-Germain eye a place in the Champions League round of 16 with victory in Sweden on Wednesday.

PSG, who are second behind Real Madrid in Group A – four points clear of Shakhtar Donetsk and last-placed Malmo – can clinch a place in the knock-out rounds with a win.

A draw could also be good enough for the French champions, providing Shakhtar fail to claim a home victory over Madrid.

But it is Ibrahimovic who is likely to capture most of the attention as he faces his hometown club, who gave the 34-year-old his start in professional football.

Ibrahimovic – who grew up in the Malmo suburb of Rosengard – broke into Malmo’s first team in 1999 before moving to Ajax in 2001.

The Sweden international has since played for Juventus, Inter, Barcelona and AC Milan before joining PSG and is understandably relishing a return to where his journey began.

Ibrahimovic – who has booked out Malmo’s main square to broadcast the game on a big screen – told UEFA.com: “It will be great. That’s where everything began. It’s where I was raised. Meeting them in the Champions League couldn’t possibly be any greater.

“It feels very surreal. It’s within reach now, and I’m going to do everything I can to enjoy myself when I step onto the field.

“Everyone else should enjoy it too, because I don’t think it will happen again in football. Not when it comes to an individual player who has been on a journey like mine, who then gets to return to the city where it all started. I’ll cherish it. It’ll be a day to remember.”

PSG go into the game having overcome Lorient 2-1 away from home on Saturday in their first game since the Paris terror attacks in which 130 people were killed.

Marco Verratti (ankle) is out again after missing that emotional game, David Luiz is suspended and the Argentina trio of Angel di Maria (calf), Ezequiel Lavezzi (knee) and Javier Pastore (calf) are all doubts.

Malmo will be without midfielder Kari Arnason due to suspension as they bid to stay in contention for the knock-out stages.

Age Hareide’s side have proven difficult to break down at home, losing only 2-0 to Madrid and beating Shakhtar 1-0 at the Swedbank Stadion.

But, given the depth of quality the visitors have in their ranks, it would be tough to bet against Ibrahimovic – who has five goals in his last four games for Sweden and PSG – marking his return with a victory.

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