PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain has two problems ahead of Tuesday's Champions League match against Barcelona: figuring out how to find its own form again and how to unlock an opposing defense that has yet to concede a goal this season.
Despite a glut of stars at its disposal, PSG has drawn six of the nine games it has played this season, including a 1-1 draw at Ajax. The frustration is starting to get to the players, and coach Laurent Blanc has even switched his formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 in a bid to find the fluidity so lacking in the team's play.
Barcelona has no such worries and, led by its lethal attacking duo of Lionel Messi and Neymar, will be confident of picking up a second straight win to take control of Group F.
In the other match, Ajax faces a tough to trip to face Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia, which has a good home record.
PSG desperately needs Zlatan Ibrahimovic to recover from a left heel injury that has kept the Sweden star out of the past two games.
After Saturday's 1-1 draw at Toulouse, coach Laurent Blanc said Ibrahimovic might not be healthy enough to face his former team.
Given how PSG has struggled so far this season, and that it has won only 40 percent of matches when he hasn't played, Ibrahimovic's presence will be a massive confidence-booster.
PSG's attack without him looks somewhat muted. Edinson Cavani still looks short of his best, even when playing in his preferred center forward's role, as he did in the past two games, and PSG misses the pace and power of Argentina winger Ezequiel Lavezzi, who is out with a thigh injury.
Also read: Ibrahimovic still out for PSG
PSG's acquisition of the versatile David Luiz from Chelsea in the offseason strengthened the defense and midfield, yet money may well have been better spent on another forward.
PSG's bid for Angel di Maria failed to materialize, the Argentina winger instead joining Manchester United, and PSG's attacking options look somewhat threadbare.
Aside from Edinson Cavani, who has scored 29 goals in 51 games since joining from Napoli last season, goals are hard to come by despite a large financial outlay.
Winger Jean-Christophe Bahebeck's goal in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Toulouse was his first in the league.
Brazil winger Lucas has been very disappointing since joining from Sao Paulo, managing only five goals in 68 games, while playmaker Javier Pastore continues to flitter in and out of the side and has failed to score this season.
In midfield, Marco Verratti has yet to score in 61 games, Blaise Matuidi has 11 in 102 and Thiago Motta a mediocre six in 58 games.
The Lionel Messi-Neymar strike partnership is turning into a demolition gang.
Neymar has scored six goals in all competitions this season and Messi has five, with the Argentina star providing his teammate with four assists. Neymar got his first hat trick in Barcelona's 6-0 rout of Granada and Messi reached his 400th career goal for club and country.
Last season, the duo shared only 14 starts. But now under coach Luis Enrique's guidance, Neymar is feasting on Messi's superb first-time passes."Messi looks for any player up ahead," Neymar said. "We are making a good pairing and we're getting to know each other better all the time."
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