Saturday, 17 August 2013

PSG vs Ajaccio: Corsicans coming to church of Zlatan

Footballers buy a lot of stuff: Armani manbags, oversized headphones, cars with aquariums in them, that sort of thing.

Never one to fit the mould, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has decided to reinvest some of his hard-earned cash in a slightly different way, and has reportedly purchased a church.

According to Afobladat, Ibra has snapped up the 115-year-old Elimkyrkan building in Stockholm, and plans to convert it into a New York-style townhouse. This is somewhat disappointing, as I was hoping he would turn it into a centre for his followers to gather in. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who would appreciate a place where they could hang out, practice their Taekwondo skills and worship a massive statue of Zlatan’s nose.

While the Church of Ibra may not be quite ready to threaten the major world religions just yet, the man himself was in god-like form this week as he bagged a hat-trick in Sweden’s 4-2 friendly win over Norway.

Now back in France following the completely pointless midweek round of international friendlies, Paris Saint-Germain fans will be praying the big Swede can that kind of form into Sunday’s clash with Ajaccio at the Parc des Princes.

Will Ibra be sharing the lime-light with new signing Edinson Cavani? Laurent Blanc was being coy about the prospect of seeing the partnership I’m calling Zlavani in tandem for the first time against the Corsicans.

"The real question is: Will [Cavani] start the match?”, said Blanc, who obviously fancies a career as a journalist if this football management lark doesn’t work out.

He continued by, er, answering his own question. Not a good journalistic technique: “We will make a decision on that. He is another player who is a little behind in his preparations and has had a few little physical problems. We have worked very well with him this week, but we still have time before making a final decision."

Reports suggest Ezequiel Lavezzi will make way for his erstwhile Napoli team-mate, while Thiago Motta is enjoying a rare period free of injury or suspension, and could come into side at the expense of Marco Verratti.

Blanc also used his Friday press conference to confirm the sad-but-not-very-surprising-actually news that Mamadou Sakho wants to leave the club: “It is true that Mamadou expressed his desire to find [another] solution”, said Blanc. “The situation will continue to develop until September 2, and there will be time to find a solution that suits both parties.”

Poor old Sakho, if I was behind the ponderous Alex in the pecking order I’d be a bit miffed as well. Liverpool and AC Milan are reportedly keen, while Monaco’s quest to BUY ALL THE PLAYERS will mean they’ll probably be interested too.

Sakho is unlikely to be involved in the match against Ajaccio, who lost their opening game of the season 1-0 to Saint Etienne. With PSG having drawn their opening match, 1-1 at Montpellier last Friday, Blanc’s men will be hoping to find the winning habit against the Corsicans, who held us to a goalless draw in the second match of last season.

Ajaccio are now bossed by Fabrizio Ravinelli. One of the more random managerial appointments of the summer, the White Feather is in his first managerial post and will have his work cut out steering his new side away from the relegation zone.

He can still call on the rather marvellous goalkeeping talents of former PSG target Guillermo Ochoa, while the other big-name in the squad is Adrian Mutu, the Romanian striker who you may recall pledged to outscore Zlatan last season. The final score: Zlatan 30 – 11 Mutu.

"Everyone knows that PSG are better than us on paper, with better players than ours. Everyone expects PSG to win, but I think that it won't be so easy for them,” said Mutu. “We'll play the game with the confidence of a team that wants to get a result. If we have the opportunity to win, we'll do so."

Sunday’s match at the Parc des Princes kicks off at 8pm English time.


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