Paris: Paris St Germain's top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic proved an inspired playmaker in his side's 4-0 thrashing of Dinamo Zagreb in Champions League Group A on Tuesday. The former AC Milan forward gave up his usual striking role at the Parc des Princes but rescued his team from a deeper position on the pitch by setting up all four goals.
"He worked for the team as he always does. He's a fantastic player, a fantastic leader, he helps the others to improve," coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters. "That's the difference between a great player and a champion. He is a champion because he uses his skills to make the team play better."
PSG top the French league table and are heading into the last 16 of Europe's elite club competition, playing very solidly but failing to sparkle. With Argentine playmaker Javier Pastore still struggling for form and forwards Jeremy Menez and Nene lacking in creativity, Ibrahimovic has had to swallow his frustration and change his style.
As the most successful and charismatic player at the wealthy club he joined in July, the Swede quickly became a leader on the pitch and has gradually adapted his game. He now collects the ball deep and links up with team mates, attracting defenders and creating space for fast forwards Menez or Ezequiel Lavezzi, his partner against Dinamo Zagreb.
"He is an option when Menez and Lavezzi run through because he can stay deeper and count on his passing abilities. We can use him this way," Ancelotti said. Ibrahimovic has developed a fine relationship with Menez, his most regular partner, and has created many chances for him.
His outstanding technical ability and understanding of the game enable him to pick the right moment to play the decisive pass. "He scores, he makes his team mates play, he delights them. He has the great forward's complete set," PSG captain Christophe Jallet said.
PSG are second in their group on nine points, five ahead of next opponents Dynamo Kiev who they beat 4-1 in their opening game. Victory in Ukraine would put the French team into the knockout stages. Leaders Porto have qualified for the last 16 and Zagreb are bottom without a point.