Zlatan Ibrahimovic had missed the last two league matches for Paris Saint-Germain, suspended after inadvertently karate kicking an opposing goalkeeper (Ibrahimovic’s world: Where martial arts just happen). During that time, PSG took one point from two, embarrassingly losing at home last week despite their opponents playing with only nine men.
On Saturday, Ibrahimovic returned in a big way, leading PSG to a 4-0 win over Troyes in which he engineered all of the goals:
- In the 17th minute, Ibrahimovic worked the ball along the right byline before putting a pass into a crowded six-yard box. The fell to Maxwell who punched home his second goal of the season.
- In the 63rd minute, ‘Ibra’ carried a ball from the center line to just outside the Troyes penalty area before poking a ball past the defense for Blaise Matuidi, who finished high into the right of goal to make it 2-0.
- In the 70th minute, and almost identically setup goal saw Ibrahimovic on the end of a Nene pass, Zlatan finishing with his left into the upper 90 to make it 3-0.
- And in the 89th minute, Ibrahimovic swept home a goal with his right after Ezequiel Lavezzi did the dirty work ahead of a cross.
Ibra is up to 12 goals and five assists in Ligue 1. Add in his Champions League performance (where he’s already accumulated a four-assist game) and Zlatan has 14 goals and 10 assists this season.
As nice as Radamal Falcao and Edinson Cavani are, I think we know the answer to this question.
Unfortunately for PSG, Zlatan’s been the only part of their attack that’s worked. He’s been involved in 17 of their 23 league goals. Only two goals scored while Ibrahimovic has actually been on the field have not been either setup or scored by him.
If he continues accruing numbers at this rate and plays all of PSG’s remaining Ligue 1 games, he’ll finish the French season with 38 goals and 16 assists.
And if the numbers aren’t sufficiently impressive, here’s Ibrahimovic’s first Saturday goal:
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]
However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.
Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.
They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.
The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.
Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.
[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]
Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.
The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.
[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]
Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0
Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.
[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]
Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw
Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.
[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]
Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.
Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.
Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.