“Zlatan is just a human. The same way a great white shark is just a fish", replied the talismanic Swede, during his #DareToZlatan Twitter Q and A.
At 32 you might expect Ibrahimovic to be on the downwards slope of his career, but, the six foot five inch goal machine has related himself to a fine wine: “The older I am, the better I get.”
So it would appear that ‘The Special One’ will need more than a hook and a worm to catch this prize winning fish, but, Jose Mourinho remains confident his team will beat the Parisians. He told Sky Sports: “I think they will be fine, they will be in their natural habitats in that match so I believe they can do a good match there.”
Mourinho avoided comment on Zlatan directly. This could be for many reasons. One being he does not feel a need to confront the big Swedish issue. And why would he? His recent goal scoring record speaks for itself. Netting 12 times in PSG’s last 13 games, a run manoeuvred without defeat.
Ibrahimovic towers over Fernando Torres, who is likely to start in the absence of Samuel Eto’o. The Spaniard has netted a mere 19 in all 105 of his Chelsea appearances, and only four times this campaign, leading to reports in Metro that the former Atletico Madrid man, along with fellow strikers, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o, could be facing the chop in the summer.
Another possible reason for Mourinho’s avoiding of Ibrahimovic, could be PSG’s exceedingly strong squad. Perhaps he fears more than just Zlatan. He is not alone in the forward ranks at Paris.
Strike partner Edinson Cavani, although not scoring as many, has just as impressive strike rate. 14 goals in 23 appearances means that John Terry and Gary Cahill, if chosen to start, will have to keep tabs on both if Laurent Blanc is feeling particularly nasty. The midfield offers even more threats to the Chelsea back line. You have to believe that whatever combination Blanc chooses on Wednesday night it will be a major threat.
So how can Chelsea best combat PSG’s glittering attack? Strength. Terry and Cahill are going to have to be on flawless form and full of aggression. If Zlatan is played alone, then the two of them should be able to contend with the gigantic Swede. If played with Cavani, then you would imagine Terry would be tasked with marshalling Zlatan, with the more mobile Cahill monitoring the nimble Cavani.
Caesar Azpillicueta and Branislave Ivanovic could also prove crucial in keeping the strikers at bay, especially Ibrahimovic. For all his strength, and acrobatics, he is definitely not as quick along the ground as he was in his early Ajax days, so stopping the service from the flanks from Lavezzi and Lucas, could prove vital in Chelsea’s bid to overcome the Parisians.
But, even with all these positions implemented, all of Chelsea’s players playing the best game of their lives, and even all Mourinho’s best mind games, there is no guarantee that the goliath striker won’t pull off another extraordinary overhead kick, or smash a 100mph shot in from 50-yards. He said it himself: “nothing Zlatan does is easy. That is why Zlatan does it”
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