How will PSG cope with recent injuries?
Four days after Paris Saint-Germain's 2-0 win over SC Bastia at Parc des Princes and the French champions are still assessing their walking wounded after the brutal clash with the Corsicans.
The cowardly head-butt by Bastia's Brazilian striker Brandao on PSG's Thiago Motta is still the main focus of attention, with the story continuing to escalate ahead of Thursday's meeting of the Ligue de Football Professionnel's (LFP) disciplinary board. However, Laurent Blanc has been dealt a number of potential blows with the news that a handful for his key players may well be out of action for some time.
Although he was not injured in the Brandao-Motta incident last Saturday, star man Ibrahimovic's bizarre injury suffered against Bastia over the weekend is the gravest of all of PSG's injury concerns moving forward.
The Swede appeared to hurt his left side early on in the victory and, despite the capital club confirming that he has a partial tear in a muscle close to his ribs, little is known about the problem. No estimated return date has been set for the 32-year-old and speculation suggests that he could be out from anything between a few days to as much as six weeks. However, he did return to light training on Wednesday though.
While the length of Ibrahimovic's absence is uncertain, it does offer PSG one small positive. That plus point is that the Scandinavian's unavailability means that strike partner Edinson Cavani will once again become the main man for les Parisiens, at least in Friday's trip to Annecy to face Evian Thonon Gaillard. The Uruguayan scored his first goal of the season against Bastia -- a clinical finish thanks to some sublime control from a quickly taken Marco Verratti free-kick -- and will now get a chance to be the focal point of the PSG attack for the foreseeable future. Considering that el Matador failed to take this opportunity when handed to him earlier this year, following Ibrahimovic's injury towards the end of last season, the 27-year-old needs to make an impression this time.
As for Motta, he does not appear to have been terribly affected by the Brandao incident over the weekend and was back in training on Tuesday, without the aid of a facemask. Although the Italian international could have remained incapacitated for eight days -- in order to ensure that his aggressor would be facing a maximum suspension of up to two years -- the PSG No. 8 took the moral high ground instead and refused to make a further mess out of the situation.
However, Motta's return to training does not mean that Blanc's team will not have to do without him for a while. Realistically, the 31-year-old will miss Friday's clash away at Evian and could possibly miss the visit of AS Saint-Etienne the following week as well. Two games out is less of a problem for PSG than five or six and one small positive from any potential Motta absence is that it ensures that Javier Pastore will continue in his central midfield role that has seen him thrive so far this season.
Gregory van der Wiel
Perhaps the most concerning of all of the injuries suffered by PSG players in the Bastia clash was the fractured vertebra Van der Wiel was left with after his clash with the villainous Brandao.
The Dutchman, although pre-selected in Netherlands coach Guus Hiddink's squad for the upcoming matches against Italy and the Czech Republic, is likely to remain sidelined with the issue for the next few weeks. Considering the 26-year-ol's recent knee problems, a back injury was the last thing he needed after a steady start to the season. Once again though, PSG have enough strength in depth to cover Van der Wiel's absence.
In fact, the injury hands new arrival Serge Aurier a chance to stake his claim for the starting right-back spot. The Ivorian has had to remain patient since arriving, waiting for his chance to impress. It seems that moment has now arrived and a string of good performances in the Dutch star's absence could see Aurier become Blanc's first-choice in the role ahead of time.
Finally, although not injured during the Bastia clash, PSG captain Thiago Silva is another player that Blanc and his team will have to do without over the next few weeks. The Brazilian international has already been ruled out for at least four weeks -- thanks to the hamstring injury picked up in the 2-1 friendly win over SSC Napoli -- and was left out of reappointed Selecao coach Dunga's first squad.
As far as injury blows go, this, along with Van der Wiel's, are the easiest for PSG to deal with. Silva has been replaced by Marquinhos, with the youngster already looked assured alongside fellow international David Luiz as the latter made his debut in the 2-0 win over Bastia. Provided that neither Marquinhos nor Luiz succumb to any injuries or suspensions any time soon, the Parisien back line is in good hands until Silva is ready to return to action.
Jonathan Johnson is based in Paris and the voice of PSG TV. He also writes for French Football Weekly. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.