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Luiz a side show as Zlatan is the prince of Paris; CAN'T KICK WON'T KICK.




HOW'S your luck, David Luiz?

Allowed to leave Chelsea because he was too flamboyant for Jose Mourinho's taste, the Brazilian could only watch in horror as three of the hard-nosed defenders preferred by the Special One, combined to score a bravura opening goal.

A cross from John Terry, a back-heeled flick from Gary Cahill and a glancing header from Branislav Ivanovic earned Chelsea the away goal which makes them favourites to progress to the quarter-finals.

The PS50million coughed up by Paris St-Germain's Qatari owners for Stamford Bridge's 'Sideshow Bob' was certainly a godsend for the new Financial Fair Playcompliant Chelsea.

Luiz has told how he played through severe pain to win the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012 - and he has never been quite the carefree kamikaze defender of popular perception.

Yet PSG boss Laurent Blanc employed him in midfield last night, perhaps recognising some of the absent-mindedness identified by Mourinho.

For Paris and Brazil, Thiago Silva is the authentic defender. When he missed the World Cup semi-final, Luiz was used as a trainingground cone by rampant Germans. Not that a more advanced role prevented Luiz from becoming involved in a series of flashpoints, often involving Diego Costa - the beast who epitomises Mourinho's teams far more than Luiz ever could.

Early on, Luiz was given the strong-arm treatment by Cesc Fabregas and when he rose to the bait he earned a verbal volley from Costa at point-blank range.

After the workaholic Edinson Cavani - and there IS a Mourinho type of player - got free of Cahill to head home a Blaise Matuidi cross, Luiz almost nodded the Parisians in front.

They have warmed to him in the French capital, a man who adds stardust to the spit-and-sawdust art of defending.

Yet there can be only one true crown prince at Le Parc - Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Despite 11 league titles with six clubs in four nations, Ibrahimovic has never won the Champions League. The ego of Sweden's Old Big 'Ead demands he gets his hands on Old Big Ears before he calls it a day. There is also the thorny issue of his unimpressive record against English clubs, which the 33-year-old bristles at the very mention of.

He is probably right to believe it a meaningless anomaly, but he often protests too much about barbs from across the Channel.

This talk should have been silenced by Zlatan's four-goal destruction of England in Stockholm in 2012. When they debate football's greatest goals, some prefer the raw power of a long-range missile; some prefer the gymnastic agility of a bicycle kick. That night, the Swede netted a 35-yard bicycle kick, having already bagged a hat-trick.

Zlatan was at it from the off here. A header forcing a sharp reflex save from Thibaut Courtois, a curl of the lip when he was brought down by a flailing Cahill and then a cunning pirouette to wrong-foot Nemanja Matic and leave the sitting midfielder on his backside.

He had captured weekend headlines by peeling off his shirt to celebrate a goal against Caen, revealing a torso covered in temporary tattoos of the names of 50 starving people to promote awareness of the World Food Programme.

Yet he was at fault for an equaliser which leaves PSG off the pace in the League.

He is a contradictory footballer - the brickouthouse build and the lightness of touch; the serial winner, still billed as something of a nearly man; the egomaniac with the charitable heart of gold.

Yet he symbolises a group of individuals at PSG who do not yet look a team capable of conquering Europe. The Qataris are almost a decade behind Roman Abramovich in their projects of turning oil into the footballing gold.

At Stamford Bridge in three weeks' time, Chelsea intend to prove it.


MESSAGE Zlatan's tribute to starving people in the world

FANS Beckham & Ferguson

TIGHT CORNER Former Blues star Luiz is given little space as Ramires is set to pounce

GOING ZLAT OUT FOR IT Ibrahimovic does aerial battle with Chelsea central defender Gary Cahill
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Feb 18, 2015
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