As for the Zlatan-José orgy over in Paris on Wednesday I think it misses the point.
They paint well, these two football peacocks. Similar in arrogance, ruthless about winning, ex dance partners at Inter … and now in direct opposition. It’s easy to try and tell this story through their prism.
But based on personal knowledge of Zlatan’s point of view I’m not sure that it’s the main line of interpretation.
When I interviewed him at Barcelona he made a point of telling me that (then) he was undervalued, mocked and ‘less than the sum of his parts’ as far as the English were concerned.
Better Zlat Than Never
I wouldn’t go so far as to say he felt a vendetta but he argued that he was wrongly mocked in the media, that every press question he received was, it seemed to him, slanted to try and make him seem either a braggadocio or self-deluding.
His status as a legendary winner in Holland, Sweden and Italy had been undermined by goal-free, tame performances when being eliminated from Europe by Arsenal, Liverpool (twice) and Manchester United while at Juventus and Inter. But since scoring twice for Barcelona at Arsenal he’s twice knocked the Gunners out of this competition and added that extravagant Zlatan 4-2 England performance back in 2012 (a night when he was directly up against Gary Cahill)
As he admitted in his autobiography: ‘revenge gets me going’. He doesn’t want to convince English football, he wants to stuff their words back down their throats. This might also qualify as his last ‘great’ opportunity to win this competition.
Since Laurent Blanc’s late Autumn switch from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 Zlatan has thrived. His numbers take him just short of Cristiano Ronaldo this season (40 goals compared to 44 in all competitions). The team is constructed to service him, he’s team leader and he’ll be a right old handful for Jose Mourinho’s side.
I expect him to score and for PSG to win. But perhaps only by a goal.