Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored two goals and assisted on two others as he lead Paris St. Germain (PSG) over Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 in the first leg of their round of 16 UEFA Champions League match at BayArena in Leverkusen. They’re the ninth and tenth goals in the campaign for the Swedish striker, one more than Real Madrid’s Cristinao Ronaldo.
Paris St. Germain was dominant in every fashion of the match today. It was not just the inspired play of Ibrahimovic, which stood out on the day. The Parisian squad had possession for 64 percent of the match, compared to 36 percent for Bayer Leverkusen. PSG also outshot their German opponents 12-5 on the day, including a 10-2 margin in shots on goal. The only margin that Leverkusen were superior in the match was in yellow cards by a count of 4-1, not an area where they would want to excel.
Leverkusen captain, Simon Rolfes, ushered in a disastrous start for the home side early on when he lost possession of the ball in the 3rd minute of the match to midfielder Blaise Matuidi. He fed the ball back to Ibrahimovic, leading PSG through and capping a frustrating first half for Leverkusen. Newly aquired PSG midfielder, Yohan Cabaye, added the final tally of the game in the 88th minute, which all but clinched the win for the Parisian side. Back at home in France, Cabaye is justifying the new contract he was given and solidifying his position on the French National team headed for the World Cup in Brazil.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc was pleased with the team’s performance after the match, saying that the team had “re-found our collective power.” He also added, “You may point out Bayer’s weakness but I would rather note the PSG performance tonight. We played as a great team, both individually and collectively.”
A look at the stats, however, makes the weakness of the German side on their home pitch today hard to overlook. They were down a man in the 59th minute when Spahić got his second yellow card of the match, which immediately got him dismissed. Leverkusen was not able to register a shot on goal until the 36th minute of the match. They also were never able to mount a serious challenge to PSG’s Italian goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigiu until the 76th minute, although they had 4 corner kicks on the evening compared to 1 from the Parisians.
It’s the worst loss for Bayer Leverkusen in this year’s Champions League since November 27, 2013 when they lost 5-0 in group stage to Manchester United. The match also marks the third straight loss for Bayer Leverkusen in all competitions this season, counting their previous two matches in German DFB Cup and Bundesliga action.
The two sides next play each other March 12 at 6:45 P.M. local time at the Parc des Princes in Paris. After today’s effort at BayArena, it would be expected that Leverkusen will come into the match with a considerably improved effort. After the way Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his PSG side were able to lead over Bayer Leverkusen, however, it may not be enough to get them through to the next round in the competition.
By Brian Ault