Analysis: Will Ibrahimovic absence really hurt PSG?
The suspended striker will miss the first leg of his side's Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday, but the numbers show his absence may be a blessing in disguise
Zlatan Ibrahimovic may well have scored twice to help fire Paris Saint-Germain to the French League Cup on Saturday, but could Laurent Blanc’s men in fact be better off without their biggest name?
The 33-year-old will be absent for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie with Barcelona on Wednesday night as he serves a one-match suspension.
Ibrahimovic was sent off just 31 minutes in to the second leg of PSG’s last-16 tie against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, only for his team-mates to prevail on away goals after extra-time.
Blanc’s side were rightly lauded for their herculean efforts against the odds, but as the dust settled on that result it begged the question of whether they were in fact worse off in his absence.
There remains a suspicion over the validity of certain statistics in football, but in the case of Ibrahimovic this season the numbers don’t lie. Of the 17 games he has missed this season, they are yet to lose, winning 12 and drawing five, giving them a win percentage of 70.5 per cent.
Compare those figures with their collective output when the striker is in the side and the results are revealing. In his 32 appearances in all competitions, PSG have won 19 games, drawn nine and lost four – with their rate of victory down to 59%.
Ibrahimovic remains his club’s top goalscorer by a distance having found the back of the net 25 times in all competitions, but seven of his 17 league goals this season have come from the penalty spot and he is unlikely to match his tally of 35 from last term.
Part of the reason for that is indiscipline. Ibra will miss four games for a foul-mouthed tirade about officials that was caught on camera in the aftermath of the 3-2 defeat to Bordeaux in Ligue 1.
But with his 34th birthday six months away, the hands of father time are catching up with him at last, with a persistent heel injury forcing him to miss a number of games this season. Certainly the statistics point to that.
Edinson Cavani will take his central striking berth over the next five games. The last time he enjoyed an extended run through the middle back in November the Uruguayan scored five times in as many matches with Ibrahimovic by his side only once. Don’t be surprised if the same thing happens again.
Group games highlights played both teams:
Barcelona 3-1 Paris Saint-Germain
Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 Barcelona
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