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PSG: There’s life without Zlatan

03 April 2014, 16:20

Paris - Zlatan Ibrahimovic is integral to Paris St Germain's five-year plan to win the Champions League but in beating Chelsea 3-1 in the quarter-final first leg on Wednesday the French club proved they can manage when he goes missing.

The Sweden striker was a pale shadow of his usual brilliant self as he failed to score or create chances for his team mates, going off midway through the second half with a thigh injury that looks like keeping him out of the return in London.

On the surface his absence would appear a bitter blow for PSG, especially as the talismanic striker has 10 Champions League goals this season, but in Ezequiel Lavezzi they have a player hitting top form at just the right time.

"He's reached a level of fitness that allows him to make forays into the defence," coach Laurent Blanc told reporters.

"He brings depth and speed. And now he scores goals. He was our best man."

Lavezzi, who joined from Napoli in 2012, the same year Ibrahimovic left Milan for Paris, struggled initially but he is now repaying his coach's faith, having scored seven goals from his last eight appearances in all competitions.

After Ibrahimovic was substituted by Lucas, the Brazil forward showed great pace to rattle Chelsea and late sub Javier Pastore scored a stunning solo goal as PSG coped superbly without the Swede to establish a two-goal cushion.

Almost halfway through the Qatari owners' five-year plan to win Europe's premium club competition, PSG are now beginning to look like a side capable of delivering ahead of time.

"Our players are getting to know each other more and more, and we've had more time to work together," said man of the match Lavezzi.

"The results have improved because of that, which is normal."

Before the game, Ibrahimovic said PSG were in the same position now that Chelsea were in two years after Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the London club in 2003.

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- Reuters


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