Ibra sees benefits of UCL experience at PSG

Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes Paris St Germain are prepared to send out a message to their prospective rivals that they are genuine contenders for this season's UEFA Champions League.

 Ezequiel Lavezzi; Javier Pastore; Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Heading into Wednesday night's Group C clash with Benfica in the French capital, Ibrahimovic insists his side are a different proposition to the one beaten by Barcelona in the quarter-finals last year.

Ibrahimovic told a press conference: "There is a big difference compared to last year because this year all the other teams have seen PSG's results and the players we have recruited.

"After a year in the Champions League the club has more experience. We must show when we're good and we will do everything to beat Benfica and prove we are challengers for the trophy."

Ibrahimovic is enjoying one of the most productive periods of his career at the age of 31 and he paid tribute to coach Laurent Blanc's management style since his arrival at the club in August.

"In two months the coach has given confidence to the group and space for us to express ourselves," said Ibrahimovic.

"When you have a group like ours we need everyone to be happy. This is difficult for the coach but he does it very well. He knows what he's doing.

He has a winning mentality and this is just the beginning."

Blanc's men go into the game on the back of a nine-match unbeaten run including a 4-1 win over Olympiakos in Greece in their Group C opener last month.

Blanc is hoping midfielder Alex will be fit to play after injury while Edinson Cavani could start after coming off the bench to score in Saturday's 2-0 Ligue 1 win over Toulouse.

Benfica will provide a stern test as they go into the game on the back of a six-match unbeaten run of their own, including an opening victory over Anderlecht.

Coach Jorge Jesus may restore Serbian Filip Djuricic up front as he goes to the Parc des Princes adamant his side have it in them to cause an upset.

Jesus said: "No-one doubts that PSG is one of the teams with the most quality at an individual level in Europe, especially in attack.

"But that does not take away our hope and confidence. We will go to Paris to score goals. We are improving all the time and hopefully we will take it to the next level."



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