Blanc dares not drop Ibrahimovic, even for a rest

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 11, 2014 at 10:50 am •  Published: March 11, 2014
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PARIS (AP) — Even though Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been hindered by a sore back and could do with a rest, coach Laurent Blanc will not sit him for the Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

PSG holds a huge 4-0 lead heading into the second leg of the last 16 and it seems to be the perfect time to give the Sweden striker a night off, but Ibrahimovic is in the form of his life and Blanc won't even ask him if he prefers to sit out for a game.

"We'll have to protect him a bit, but Zlatan always wants to play. His back is much better," Blanc said Tuesday. "I know what his answer will be if I ask him if he wants to start the game."

The 32-year-old Ibrahimovic has 38 goals in all competitions this season and is showing no signs of slowing down. Despite his advancing years, he still looks fresh and has started 27 of PSG's 28 league games, scoring 23 goals. He has added a further 10 goals in the Champions League — two of those against Leverkusen in the first leg.

Ibrahimovic is scoring spectacular goals with uncommon ease and also setting them up in his own extroverted style, such as his assist for winger Ezequiel Lavezzi last weekend.

As an innocuous-looking ball bounced high near the center circle, normally there would be no danger, but Ibrahimovic showed incredible dexterity to twist his leg up to near shoulder height and volley the ball with his heel into Lavezzi's path.

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