It seems bizarre to think that, only a handful of seasons ago, the majority of English fans remained unconvinced about the much-heralded talents of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The charismatic Swede has never doubted his own ability, and having won league titles in Holland, Italy, Spain and France, he has the titles to back up his bravado. But his rather underwhelming record against English sides in Europe had, until very recently, meant that his reputation on UK soil was not quite as high as on the continent.
That was until one night in Stockholm, when Ibrahimovic punished a youthful England side in 2012 with all four goals in a stunning 4-2 victory, including a spectacular overhead kick from well outside the box.
Until that day, his stats of three goals in 16 games against English sides (all Arsenal) didn’t seem to take on much significance.
Since then, as Chelsea know only too well, Zlatan has found the net a further two times, as the Blues went crashing out of the Champions League to PSG, featuring Ibrahimovic goals in both legs. Now Manchester City lie in wait as Zlatan prepares to dole out further punishment to these shores for ever doubting him.
It’s true that PSG have an injury list that removes some key creative influences from midfield. Marco Veratti, Javier Pastore and Angle Di Maria all missed PSG’s game at the weekend and should they not make the starting XI on Wednesday, City’s chances of stopping the flow to Ibrahimovic will be increased. The away side are 4/1 to record a shock win at the Parc Des Princes.
But with City also without influential figures, crucially those best-suited to fronting up to Zlatan, with Vincent Kompany and potentially also Joe Hart still sidelined, the striker’s current vein of form suggest only one winner.
With the Ligue 1 title remarkably already in the bag for PSG, the Parisians are able to focus 100% on claiming their first ever European Cup, and with Ibrahimovic yet to boost his haul of silverware with European success, he’ll be keenest of all.
His recent goals record only emphasises his eagerness to claim Europe’s big one. With 40 goals in 43 appearances for club and country this season, the 34-year-old has shown no sign of taking his foot off the gas, with 16 goals in 2016 alone.
He scored four two weeks ago in a title-sealing 9-0 away win at Troyes, and comes in to this game on the back of yet another hat-trick, proving that even a depleted PSG side can hand out thrashings, with a 4-1 win over Nice.
Yet despite the French dominance from Laurent Blanc’s side, other than Ibrahimovic only Edinson Cavani boasts a double-digit goalscoring record this season.
His 14 league goals lead Di Maria, with the Argentinean next up on nine. Given the number of goals the French side have plundered this season, 81 (the next highest, Lyon, have scored 52), it is remarkable just how many of them come from their talisman.
The 3/1 on offer for Ibrahimovic to get the vital first goal then may at first look short, but given the percentage of PSG goals that come from him and him only, the price is warranted. And on a ground where the latest no-expense-spared incarnation of this side has lost only once in the Champions League since 2012 (and that was to Barcelona), so too is the 7/5 on offer for Ibrahimovic to score and PSG to win.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.