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Neymar back in training ahead of World Cup


Transfer Rater: Neymar to Real Madrid

Football Whispers
 By Mark Rodden

Zlatan Ibrahimovic under too much Champions League pressure - Zebina

Several of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's former teammates believe that the Paris Saint-Germain striker puts himself under too much pressure in the Champions League knockout stages.

Ibrahimovic, 34, scored a deflected free kick in the first leg of PSG's round-of-16 tie against Chelsea last month, helping the French champions to a 2-1 win ahead of the return match at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

The Swedish striker has won 12 league titles in four different countries but he has famously never gone all the way in the Champions League.

During a long career with Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan and PSG, he has struggled to find the net as regularly in the knockout stages of the competition. His strike against Chelsea was just his eighth in close to 40 post-group stage appearances.

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Former Juventus defender Jonathan Zebina -- who has had some infamous run-ins with his old colleague -- thinks that Ibrahimovic is suffering from a mental block.

"You would have to be stupid to deny his talent but the statistics are there," Zebina told L'Equipe.

"He has the physique, the talent and today he has the experience. For me, the explanation can only be mental. Does he put himself under too much pressure?"

Ex-AC Milan player Taye Taiwo told the same paper that Ibrahimovic felt an obligation to try and drive his team on in the latter stages of the Champions League.

"From the last 16 on, I could sense he was more nervous," Taiwo said. "In fact, Zlatan had an obsession to be the saviour."

The best Ibrahimovic has managed in the Champions League so far was a semifinal appearance with Barcelona in the 2009-10 season. Having played in it more than 100 times, no player has made more appearances in the competition without winning the trophy.

The Malmo native is in top form this season, however, having scored 30 goals in 37 matches in all competitions and creating 13 more.

Ex-Juventus striker David Trezeguet, another former team mate, told L'Equipe that Ibrahimovic can make a further telling contribution against Chelsea.

"He's worked to correct that," Trezeguet said of Ibrahimovic's record in the knockout stages.

"I feel that he wants to contradict these stats. PSG will need the best version of Zlatan and I'm sure that he will be decisive." 


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