Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s double for Paris Saint-Germain at home to AS Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 on Sunday moved him to 25 league goals for the season, as well as re-established the French champions’ eight-point lead at the top of the table.
Open those numbers up to all competitions, though, and the Swede is on 40 goals for the campaign.
3 – Top 3 goals + assists in Europe’s Top 5 leagues 2013/14: Ibrahimovic 36, Suarez 35, Ronaldo 32. Giants.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) March 17, 2014
That is more than any player in PSG’s history.
The 32-year-old usurped previous incumbent Carlos Bianchi, the former Argentine forward and now coach, with his brace against Les Verts. But there are still two months left to play in the season and a number of other records to break in sight.
Where, realistically, can Ibrahimovic’s supreme current form lead PSG and the towering striker in that coming period, then?
Domestically, Laurent Blanc’s side are on course to defend last year’s Championnat triumph and secure their first-ever back-to-back titles. There is also the final of the Coupe de la Ligue to look forward to, with the capital outfit meeting Olympique Lyonnais at the Stade de France in April.
Ibrahimovic has contributed massively on both fronts, and it is difficult to not see that rich vein of form continuing over the coming weeks.
League-wise, the talismanic striker has an incredible 25 goals and 11 assists in Ligue 1, a leading tally in both respects. As far as the cup competitions go, it was his double that secured next month’s date with Lyon in the French capital in the Coupe de la Ligue.
However, he also has three goals to his name in the Coupe de France, a trophy that the Swede and his teammates are unable to get their hands on after a disappointing exit at the hands of 2011-2012 league champions Montpellier HSC.
10 - Only Lionel Messi has scored as many league goals than Zlatan Ibrahimovic (10) in Europe’s Top 5 leagues in 2014. Kings.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) March 16, 2014
It is a reasonable expectation that Ibrahimovic’s goalscoring will continue unabated, so seeing his feature prominently in the title run-in and possibly playing a starring role in the cup final is a strong likelihood.
To motivate him to keep up this impressive form, the ex-AC Milan man is not only still five strikes shy of last year’s 30-goal haul, but he is 19 behind the all-time record for goals scored in a French season (44), held by Olympique de Marseille legend Josip Skoblar.
Admittedly the latter is a highly ambitious target, but when has Ibrahimovic been known to shirk a challenge?
Dare to Zlatan, right?
Should he continue his current form, he will surpass last year’s excellent tally and likely replace with something close to 40. However, these things appear more certainty than possibility at present.
The real unknown factor is UEFA Champions League success.
After reaching the quarterfinals, how far can an Ibrahimovic-inspired PSG realistically go in Europe’s elite club competition?
87 - Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had 87 more shots than any other player since last season in Ligue 1. Gulf.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) March 17, 2014
So much of that depends on the draw, of course, but the French juggernaut should not feel that they are being overly ambitious in targeting at least a berth in the semi-finals this time around.
Ibrahimovic’s 10 goals in seven appearances is an impressive return and has been one of the main contributing factors towards PSG’s run this far, although the team themselves have been relatively free-scoring.
Only Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo has been more dangerous in front of goal in this season’s edition, and a matchup with former coach Carlo Ancelotti’s current side would also give the PSG man a chance to settle a score with the Portuguese international after the 2014 FIFA World Cup play-offs.
Knocking out the Spaniards and Ronaldo would almost guarantee Ibrahimovic the position of top scorer in this year’s competition, assuming that he plays as important a role as he is playing at present.
Equally, an in-the-form-of-his-life Zlatan will fancy any of he potential opponents except, arguably, Bayern Munch.
Realistically, though, Ibrahimovic’s current form could carry PSG and himself to collective and individual glory on multiple fronts.
A lot will depend on this Friday’s quarterfinal draw in Europe, but in terms of Ligue 1 and the Coupe de la Ligue, his further contribution will already be expected.