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:
BERLIN (AP) The German soccer federation is mulling a proposal to allow China’s under-20 team to play friendly matches in the fourth tier of its league system.
Because the Southwest Regional League is comprised of 19 clubs, each currently has two match-days free that can be used for friendly games. The one-off action would allow China’s under-20 team to prepare for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
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“Nothing has been fixed yet but the clubs are all in favor,” league president Felix Wiedemann told The Associated Press on Thursday. “There’s a lot of interest in it. It’s important to say that there will be no points at stake, so it won’t influence the outcome of the league.”
Clubs would receive about 15,000 euros ($16,700) in compensation for two home games against the Chinese side, if the plan is approved. The Chinese are planning on a base near Heidelberg in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
Southwest Regional League members are meeting on July 11, when a decision will likely be made in consultation with the German soccer federation, Wiedemann said. The league kicks off at the end of the month.
China and Germany agreed to a five-year soccer partnership last November, aimed at developing the game in China with training and other programs.
Australia and Cameroon fight for their Confederations Cup lives on Thursday at 11 a.m.ET live on Telemundo Deportes.
[ WATCH LIVE: Cameroon vs. Chile on Telemundo Deportes ]
Cameroon will have its top attacker in the form of Vincent Aboubakar in its bid to overcome an opening loss to Chile, while Australia will hope goalkeeper Maty Ryan can get the job done following a 3-2 loss to Germany.
Germany and Chile square off at 2 p.m. ET.
Multiple reports claim Crystal Palace has offered its managerial position to Dutch boss Frank De Boer.
Palace has been without a manager since Sam Allardyce retired after the season. The Eagles finished 15th in the Premier League, five points behind eighth place Southampton and seven points clear of the drop zone.
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An accomplished defender at Ajax and Barcelona, the 47-year-old De Boer led Ajax in his first managerial stint before spending less than three months at Inter Milan last season.
De Boer twice won the Rinus Michels Award as the top manager in Dutch football, and would become just the second Palace manager from outside the British Isles.
He would inherit a very good group of attackers with Wilfried Zaha, Christian Benteke, and Andros Townsend. Palace also has a talented midfielders Luka Milivojevic and Yohan Cabaye to go with marauding Dutch back Patrick Van Aanholt.
Mexico should be counting their Confederations Cup blessings in congested Group A after a prolonged shoving match at the end of its 2-1 win over New Zealand on Thursday somehow ended with a single red card.
New Zealand is fortunate, too, but the All-Whites have already seen their hopes of the knockout round extinguished by a pair of losses in Russia.
With New Zealand counterattacking in hopes of a late equalizer, Mexico’s Diego Reyes pulled back charging Niko Boxall. It was the second pull back in minutes after Rafa Marquez went uncarded at the other end, and Boxall reacted poorly by lunging cleat-first into Hector Herrera’s calf.
Referee Bakary Gassama should’ve easily pulled two red cards there, but lost his focus in an ensuing melee that saw Herrera charge back to knock down Boxall, headbutts between Diego Reyes and Andrew Durante, and an absurd hand-throwing performance from Javier Aquino. Perhaps this lapse was understandable, which is why he had Video Assistant Referee available.
Even video couldn’t get it right, as a long and sloppy review was seemingly bungled by the referees saw a trio of yellow cards given to Boxall, Reyes, and Herrera.
All three should’ve been sent off, and otherwise Man of the Match contender Aquino and his teammate Marco Fabian should not have escaped discipline by any stretch of the imagination. If Gassama needed it to be level, Michael McGlinchey, Ryan Thomas and Durante could’ve left the match as well.
Instead, a terrific match has been left in the lurch. Will FIFA have the guts to issue supplemental discipline ahead of the important final matches of the group stage?