Just when Paris Saint-Germain thought they were out of the woods in terms of their injury problems, this international break has seen the French champions’ players dropping like flies with fitness concerns.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic starts for Sweden in Montenegro tonight. First start since September 21— Andy Scott (@andpscott) November 15, 2014
The super Swede scored inside of 10 minutes to help his country to a 1-1 2016 UEFA European Championship qualifying draw away against Montenegro on Saturday. However, the 33-year-old will not feature in Tuesday’s friendly between the Scandinavians and France in Marseille after aggravating his heel injury.
Ibrahimovic is now a doubt for PSG’s trip to face FC Metz in Ligue 1 next Friday and adds to coach Laurent Blanc’s growing injury worries.
Les Parisiens are currently without Blaise Matuidi, Marco Verratti and Lucas Moura because of injuries that have kept the trio out of action with their respective nations. Zlatan now joins that list, meaning Blanc is facing the prospect of being deprived of four of his first-choice stars when Ligue 1 recommences next week.
At no point this season has Le President been able to field what he could consider his first-choice starting XI, which looks likely to continue for the next few weeks at least.
Matuidi picked up a hand injury, which has been operated on and will likely keep him out for at least a couple of matches. Verratti was struggling with an adductor problem prior to PSG’s 2-0 win over Olympique de Marseille and subsequently missed the 1-0 success against APOEL FC at home in the UEFA Champions League and could miss out in Metz.
Lucas has an ankle injury, the severity of which is not yet known, but losing any of these four stars would be a considerable blow for Blanc.
PSG are currently on a good run of form, with six wins from six games in all competitions. Those victories have been picked up despite various absences through injury or unavailability. But Blanc has not been deprived of so many key players—particularly in midfield—at any point so far this campaign.
Between them, the four players have provided 11 goals and five assists this term and would be a major hole in Blanc’s side. Despite the likes of Yohan Cabaye, Adrien Rabiot and Ezequiel Lavezzi being able to step in to cover various absences, these injuries still weaken PSG considerably.
Now just a single point behind bitter rivals Marseille at the top of Le Championnat, the French capital outfit cannot afford to drop any points if they want to usurp Marcelo Bielsa’s men at the summit of the French top flight.
While the absences of Matuidi, Verratti, Lucas and Ibrahimovic could be overcome thanks to the French giants’ impressive strength in depth, there is only so far that depth will stretch, and an injury to another key player like Thiago Motta or Edinson Cavani would cause considerable problems for Blanc.
Zlatan, as good and important a player as he is, has been out for almost two months. PSG are used to coping without him at present. But Lucas, Matuidi and Verratti have barely missed a beat all season, and lining up without all three will cause the champions to lose a bit of their usual rhythm.
While Ibrahimovic’s absence for Sweden against France is almost certainly precautionary, considering he played 90 minutes against Montenegro, PSG need to avoid the temptation to rush him back to action.
This latest spate of injuries has the potential to derail Les Parisiens’ progress, and they would be better off allowing all of their stars to fully recover before risking them on the pitch. Good progress has been made lately, and if this flurry of injuries can be rode out, then PSG will be in a good position when they finally get all of their stars back to full fitness ahead of the second half of the season.