Following his injury in Paris Saint-Germain’s first leg victory over Chelsea in their UEFA Champions League clash, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out for the foreseeable future.
Ibrahimovic, 32, pulled up in the second half of PSG’s 3-1 victory over Chelsea and clutched his upper leg after knocking a ball forward and then failing to run after it.
Speaking in his Friday press conference, PSG’s manager Laurent Blanc gave an update on Zlatan’s injury and revealed that Les Parisiens’ forward is suffering from a thigh problem and will miss next week’s game in West London.
“It’s a bad blow for us,” Blanc said. “He will be unavailable for the weeks ahead without a determined duration. He is a player who scores a lot of goals and brings lots to the team.”
That news will boost Chelsea, as Jose Mourinho’s men need to overturn a two-goal deficit in order to reach the semifinals of the UCL.
However Zlatan struggled to cause Chelsea any real problems in the first leg, but his presence on the field for PSG is crucial as they aim to break into the group of Europe’s elite teams. His experience, confidence and leadership has been vital for the French club since he joined from AC Milan in 2012.
(MORE: Zlatan injures thigh, huge blow for Paris Saint-Germain)
With Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore still on board to give Chelsea’s defense a torrid time, the French champions should be okay without Zlatan and see off Chelsea’s charge. But good news for PSG’s fans is that Zlatan should be fit again before the end of the season to help the capital club surge towards their second-straight French title.
But, psychologically, will PSG miss their talisman in the second leg at Stamford Bridge? Only time will tell as Zlatan will be watching on with the rest of us, when his side face their date with Champions League destiny next Tuesday.
PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.
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The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”
His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”
Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.
Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.
In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.
He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.
Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.
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The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.
“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.
“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”
Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.
PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.
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Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.
Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.
There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.
Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.
Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.
Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.
Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.
The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.
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On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.
With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.
According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.
“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.
“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”
Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.