All eyes on fiery Zlatan

2015-03-19 14:13
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AFP)

Paris - Paris Saint Germain's star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be under intense scrutiny on Friday when they host Ligue 1 strugglers Lorient -- and not only from panicked defenders.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has told him to be on his best behaviour after the Swede called France "a shit country" and insulted the referee after last week's 3-2 league defeat to Bordeaux.

"I am shocked by the remarks in equal measure about the refereeing as about France," he said.

"I would urge him to behave in an exemplary manner all the time."

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen even suggested Ibrahimovic could leave the country if he felt that way, but others have supported him.

"He's a world class player," Sweden coach Eric Hamren said, and reminded everyone that a fly-on-the-wall camera inside any dressing would be highly revealing.

But the French referees' union, SAFE, called the outburst "a new torrent of hate and verbal violence" by Ibrahimovic, who stands to pick up a ban of up to five domestic games.

He will, however, be available on Friday, as he will not learn his fate until April 9.

That means he will also be free to play in the the league game with title rivals Marseille after the international break, a French Cup quarter-final with Saint Etienne and a League Cup final with Bastia the week after.

PSG are in fact still chasing four trophies after eliminating Chelsea in the Champions League last week, where Ibrahimovic was sent off for a muscular foul on Oscar.

Ibrahimovic was, however, trying to pull out of a wild challenge and Paris are holding their breath to see if the ban is for one or two games.

In the meantime, PSG will discover their quarter-final opponents in Friday's draw.

The French champions currently lie second in Ligue 1 on 56 points, two behind Lyon and two ahead of Marseille with nine games to go.

But with matches coming thick and fast, injuries are racking up.

They lost Yohan Cabaye to a knee injury 10 minutes into his comeback last week while David Luiz has a thigh strain but is suspended, anyway.

His natural replacement Marquinhos also has a thigh strain and Lucas Moura and Serge Aurier are both also sidelined with injuries.

On the bright side, Argentine attacking midfielder Javier Pastore is on a run of brilliant form and coach Laurent Blanc has an enviable pool of talent to select from.

Lorient will bank on a trio of young strikers, Jordan Ayew, Raphael Guerreiro and Benjamin Jeannot, who have 22 goals between them for the club that is 15th on 34 points and who have won two, lost two and drawn one of their last five games.

Leaders Lyon will be aiming to stay top ahead of the international break and have thir top French goalscorer Alexandre Lacazette back in fine form for the visit of Nice.

Third-placed Marseille, will hope to build on their return to form which has featured a 6-1 hammering of Toulouse and a 0-0 draw with Lyon, where they were denied a good goal for offside, when they travel to second bottom Lens.


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