Valencia vs. Paris Saint-Germain, 2013 UEFA Champions League draw: A test for Zlatan and Co.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Can Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally shake off the 'big game bottler' label?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the world's top center forwards, and has been for the better part of a decade, but his best performances always come in league play. For Ajax, Inter Milan, Barcelona and AC Milan, he never brought his best in the UEFA Champions League. In Paris Saint-Germain's Round of 16 tie against Valencia, they'll be expecting him to shed his reputation as a player who can't get the job done on Europe's biggest stage.

Key player

Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Because, come on, of course it's Zlatan. PSG goes as he goes, and fortunately for them, he's been one of the best players on the planet so far this season. As long as Ibrahimovic is scoring goals and setting up his teammates, PSG are difficult to stop, but they've struggled whenever he has failed to play well (which hasn't been often) or when he's been absent from their lineup. PSG won't win if he doesn't perform.

Matchup to watch

PSG's midfield vs. Ever Banega - A big part of the reason why PSG are overly dependent on Ibrahimovic is because they haven't sorted out their midfield exactly right. They have plenty of talented players in the center, but they're yet to find the perfect balance. That might be a problem if Ever Banega is healthy and in form. Los Che's playmaker is the engine that makes them go, and he allows them to keep possession against superior teams. Zlatan can't score if his midfield can't win the ball off Banega.

Prediction

PSG to win by one goal - Even though PSG haven't been here before and Ibrahimovic never brings his best in Champions League, they're just too talented for Valencia from top to bottom. Valencia have an arsenal of players who can score goals out of nowhere, but their defensive record is not terrific. Perhaps new manager Ernesto Valverde, who built a great defensive side at Olypiakos, can fix that, but there's no reason to predict that they'll be able to contain PSG at the moment.

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