Blanc warns PSG of Kiessling danger
Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc warned the French title-holders Leverkusen striker Stefan Kiessling represents the biggest threat to his team's Champions League ambitions.
Kiessling, 30, will lead the Leverkusen attack when the German club play host to PSG in the first leg of their last 16 tie on Tuesday. With a star-encrusted squad and an impressive group stage campaign behind them, PSG start favourites, but Blanc is aware of the greatest danger his side face.
"Their forward, Stefan Kiessling," said the Ligue 1 champions' boss. "He's a goalscorer. We can make the comparison with Zlatan. He's very present at the spearhead of the attack. He's a very good player. You just have to look at his statistics."
Though Kiessling has scored ten league goals this season, Leverkusen will be conscious of the fact Ibrahimovic, 32, is playing some of the best football of his career.
The Swedish international struck his 19th league goal of the campaign in last Friday's 3-0 defeat of Valenciennes, and his talents in particular mean PSG are heavily fancied to progress to the quarterfinals for a second successive season.
"You can't talk about favourites in a competition like the Champions League," PSG midfielder Marco Verratti countered. "It's not because people are talking about it that we're the favourites. Of course, we're going to try and qualify at any cost. We need to be at 100 percent of our abilities because we're up against a tough opponent, a big team. It's up to us to be careful."
Blanc will have to once again contend with the injury-enforced absence of Edinson Cavani, who remains sidelined with a thigh strain. The Uruguayan international should return for the second leg next month, bolstering a squad many believe could become France's second Champions League winners after the Marseille team of 1993.
"It will be difficult, but not impossible," goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu told Le Figaro. "There are quite a few teams that have waited a while before becoming European champions. We've grown very quickly with a team that is today very solid on the pitch. Last year, we discovered the competition. No, Europe has more respect for PSG. But we're not getting carried away, we're only in the last 16. We mustn't look forward to any potential final."