How PSG Will Cope Without Zlatan and 5 Burning Questions Ahead of Reims

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterApril 4, 2014

How PSG Will Cope Without Zlatan and 5 Burning Questions Ahead of Reims

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    After securing a stunning 3-1 Champions League victory over Chelsea on Wednesday night, Paris Saint-Germain will now turn their attention to the league fixture against Stade de Reims on Saturday.

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss the tie due to a hamstring injury picked up at the Parc des Princes this week, while Edinson Cavani looks set to replace him. How will the Uruguayan, and PSG in general, fare without their Swedish talisman?

    We ask the question, in addition to four more, as we build up toward this weekend's tussle. 

How Will Paris Saint-Germain Cope Without Zlatan Ibrahimovic?

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    When Zlatan Ibrahimovic hit the deck mid-game on Wednesday night, clutching his right leg, a wave of fear swept through the Parc des Princes crowd.

    The Swede's 40 goals in all competitions this season has allowed Paris Saint-Germain to overpower all who have stood before them, but what now it's been confirmed the talisman will miss at least a few weeks with a hamstring problem?

    Step forward, Edinson Cavani. Not many teams—if any—can boast a €63 million striker as "depth" in world football.

    His confidence is at an all-time low and his production was shoddy against Chelsea. Can he step up against Reims, notch a couple and travel to Stamford Bridge in the right frame of mind? 

Can Marco Verratti Redeem Himself?

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Marco Verratti has had a sensational season, prompting Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport to suggest he's becoming a mix of Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso.

    However, on Wednesday, he had an off-night, and those occur a little too frequently for him to be considered a mix of two Italian greats—let alone a replicant of one.

    Yohan Cabaye is chomping at the bit to play in central midfield alongside the impressive Blaise Matuidi and Thiago Motta.

    Verratti is suspended for the game against Reims so he won't have the chance to make up for it on the pitch; can he redeem himself another way?

Which Other Fringe Starters Will Get the Chance to Impress?

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    It's not just Yohan Cabaye looking to impress this weekend. Several fringe players in the squad are likely to be awarded an audition against Reims.

    Lucas Digne could come in for the dependable Maxwell. Javier Pastore could win a start alongside Cabaye and Verratti. Marquinhos could relieve Christophe Jallet. Meanwhile, Lucas Moura looks set to start on the right-hand side.

    It's a big day for several players despite the fixture, on paper, seeming a formality in Paris Saint-Germain's Ligue 1 title charge. A strong performance could catapult you into the XI at Stamford Bridge. 

Can Marquinhos Take Advantage of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Injury?

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

    The fringe starter with perhaps the most to gain out of Saturday's visit of Reims is Marquinhos, Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian defensive wunderkind.

    He's a centre-back by trade but has the confidence, calmness, mobility and ball-playing skills to deputise as a right-back. He played there for Roma several times toward the end of the 2013-14 season and could fill in here.

    Laurent Blanc asked Edinson Cavani to help Christophe Jallet extensively on Wednesday, fearing what Eden Hazard would do to him if he didn't have an extra body in cover.

    With Cavani moving central, will Lucas Moura provide the same protection? If he can't be trusted to, then Marquinhos could get the nod ahead of Jallet thanks to his superior defensive skill set.

Will Reims Continue Their Stellar Season and Upset the Hosts?

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    Michel Spingler

    With the broader European focus largely falling on Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco's riches this season, the rest of Ligue 1 has been cast in shadow.

    Lyon and Marseille are struggling, while Lille and Saint-Etienne have emerged as the major contenders to les Monegasques' place in second in the table. Surprisingly, Reims have also put together a very solid season.

    They don't score too many goals, but they are a tough outfit, with two star players in Grzegorz Krychowiak (CM) and Aissa Mandi (RB). A set-back for PSG here wouldn't shock the world, and if Reims can pull it off, they'll move onto 47 points for the season—one clear of L'OM!