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PSG renews Barca rivalry without Ibrahimovic

Updated: 2015-04-15 08:02
(China Daily)

Diminished by injuries and suspensions, Paris Saint-Germain renews hostilities with Barcelona on Wednesday as the sides clash at the Parc des Princes in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal.

PSG has been eliminated in the last eight on away goals in each of the past two seasons, including losing to Barcelona in 2013.

As it looks to finally make it back to the semifinals of Europe's elite club competition for the first time in 20 years, the side from the French capital could hardly be in better form.

A point clear at the top of Ligue 1, it is on course to win an unprecedented sweep of the domestic honors after mercilessly crushing Bastia 4-0 in the final of the League Cup at the weekend.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice in that game, having netted a hat-trick in last week's 4-1 French Cup semifinal defeat of Saint-Etienne to reach a century of goals for the club.

The Swede has scored 13 times in his past seven matches for club and country but he will miss the meeting with one of his former teams due to suspension after being sent off in the second leg of the last-16 win over Chelsea last month.

Ibrahimovic is also about to begin a four-game domestic ban, so PSG must get used to being without its talisman who has 28 goals in total this season.

"He was good, very good," said Laurent Blanc of Ibrahimovic's display in the League Cup final. "His objective now is the second leg against Barcelona in 10 days. He will get some rest."

Blanc must also do without Marco Verratti, due to suspension, while David Luiz and Thiago Motta have hamstring injuries, although the return to fitness of the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Lucas does provide some consolation.

In any case, the absence of Ibrahimovic may not prove as crucial as it appears at first glance. After all, he was injured when PSG beat Barcelona 3-2 at the Parc des Princes in a thrilling group stage game in September.

He was back by the time the sides met at Camp Nou in December and even scored in that game but could not prevent Barcelona winning 3-1 on the night.

And it was with 10 men following the Swede's sending-off that the French champion rallied to eliminate Chelsea on away goals on a remarkable evening at Stamford Bridge.

Agence France Presse

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