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Paris Saint-Germain v Malmo: All eyes on Ibrahimovic against boyhood club

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 13 Sep 2015

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All eyes will be on Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Parc des Princes as Paris Saint-Germain kick off their UEFA Champions League campaign against Malmo, the Sweden striker’s hometown club and first professional team.

The 33-year-old is set to face his former club, who he played for between 1999 and 2001 before beginning his star-studded career in mainland Europe that continues to this day with PSG.

“Ibra is very happy to play against the club where he started,” the club’s in-form midfielder Blaise Matuidi told Telefoot.

“This may be his last Champions League, so playing against his hometown team is something beautiful.”

But there is one thing missing for both him and his current club – Champions League success, something which the French side have made no secret they are desperate to change.

PSG have fallen at the quarter-final stage in each of the last three seasons and have never made it past the semi-final in their history, but have added Angel di Maria to a squad which already contains established stars like Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani in an attempt to break that barrier.

Ibrahimovic has scored more goals in the Champions League (43) than any other player in this year’s tournament outside of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, yet he is still to win the trophy.

With major speculation over whether Ibrahimovic will still be in Paris beyond this season, the current campaign may represent his last realistic chance to win the honour, given the quality of his team-mates.

The former Milan striker missed time through injury earlier in the season and was kept out of Friday’s 2-2 Ligue 1 draw against Bordeaux as head coach Laurent Blanc aimed to ensure he was fully fresh for Europe.

“I have no concern about Ibra’s physical shape but he is not in the best of conditions,” Blanc had said prior to the game.

“He could play but he will not – we decided to leave him to rest so he is in top form for the Champions League.”

The draw with Bordeaux, which came as a result of two mistakes by goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, ended a perfect start to the season for Blanc’s men, who had previously won five straight games without conceding a goal.

PSG will be without the suspended Serge Aurier, while Javier Pastore (calf) continues to be monitored having not played since August 21.

Malmo only managed three points in last season’s group stage and go into the game as massive underdogs having lost seven of their last eight matches away from home in Europe.

They are seven points off the top in their domestic league, but impressed by knocking out Scottish champions Celtic over two legs in the play-off round. 

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