Malmo boss Age Hareide claims that “only the sky has more stars” than Tuesday’s Champions League opponents Paris Saint-Germain.
Last month, Laurent Blanc added Angel Di Maria to an already formidable-looking attack boasting Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Moura in an effort to bolster his side’s chances of winning their first continental crown.
Ibrahimovic was rested at the weekend in order to boost his chances of being fit to face his boyhood club but Hareide insists they will not focus all their efforts on the Sweden captain.
“We are not concerned or influenced at all by whether Zlatan will play or not. In fact, we haven’t discussed this at all,” he said. “There are a lot of stars in this Paris team – the only place where you can find more is in the sky!
“Our level of confidence has grown, and we are very focused on keeping the ball. We need to believe in ourselves, that’s a key factor when you’re playing against the best teams in Europe. In these games we need to avoid allowing the opponent too much of the ball, that’s what we will aim to do tomorrow.
“We’re happy to start our campaign here in Paris, it is a club which has grown a lot over the past few years. But we need to be realistic. Earning a point here would be a good result, although we’ll obviously aim for the win.”
Malmo captain Markus Rosenberg admits his side are feeling the pressure as they aim to spring a shock against the French champions.
“The first match of the group stage is always special, and it’s true you can grow more nervous when it’s against a star-studded team like Paris,” said the striker.
“We’ll have to work hard and play our game when we have the ball.
“Zlatan is a top player, one of the best in the world, but we’ll definitively need to avoid focusing on only one player, because there are many dangerous ones in Paris.”