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Football | France

Zlatan Ibrahimovic © Action Images

PSG counting on Ibra magic



Paris Saint Germain will be looking for some of the magic shown by Swedish international striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to inspire his teammates as the Ligue 1 leaders host Rennes in French league action on Saturday.

PSG drew 1-1 last weekend away to defending champions Montpellier, while mid-table Rennes' campaign has been gaining momentum as they come off back-to-back wins against Reims and Nancy.

Ibrahimovic drew gushing praise after he scored all four goals –including a spectacular long-range bicycle kick – in Sweden's 4-2 friendly win over England in Stockholm on Wednesday.

And his Brazilian teammate Alex said that he hoped the impressive form shown by the Swede would continue to inspire the Parisians.

"Everyone is talking about it," said defender Alex, who should line up on Saturday as Mamadou Sakho is suspended after his controversial sending off against Montpellier.

"He has the habit of making the difference and I hope he'll continue to do so for us," the Brazilian continued.

"His (Ibrahimovic) performance against England could also help him for the Ballon d'Or ... he's a fantastic player and I hope he can maintain this rhythm and his extraordinary athletic power."

Paris need a win to hold off second-place Marseille, who are equal on 23 points but have a game in hand, with the leaders taking just one point from their last two away matches.

Marseille, held 2-2 by Nice last weekend and already missing injured striker Andre-Pierre Gignac, have had more bad news ahead of Sunday's trip to Bordeaux with striker Loic Remy out for up to three months with a thigh injury.

Striker Jordan Ayew will also be absent as Marseille try and hold their position as joint Ligue 1 leaders ahead of next week's Europa League clash at home against Turkish side Fenerbahce.

Bordeaux are sitting sixth, just two points behind the leaders, but midfielder Nicolas Maurice-Belay believes his side could be playing this season's champions against Marseille.

"They haven't been given sufficient credit as favourites this season because PSG had a big recruitment drive and Marseille didn't recruit much," said Maurice-Belay.

"The fact that the group have known each other for the past year has helped them get a good start to the season.

"Having messed up the end of the previous season has boosted them. They've focused themselves on being even more competitive for the start to the season."

Montpellier, two points above the drop zone with just 13 points for 12 games, can once again count on captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa among their ranks for Saturday's trip to fifth-placed Valenciennes.

Defender Yanga-Mbiwa has purged his five-match ban, but Moroccan international playmaker Younes Belhanda, who was given his marching orders in Sunday's 1-1 draw against PSG is suspended.

Lyon, sitting third, host midtable Reims, as St Etienne, unbeaten in their last seven league games, travel to Evian as they look to move up into the top three.

Elsewhere, Troyes host Nancy in a bottom of the table clash, Sochaux travel to Ajaccio host Sochaux and Nice host Toulouse.

Fixtures

Saturday

Paris Saint Germain v Rennes
Valenciennes v Montpellier
Ajaccio v Sochaux
Brest v Bastia
Evian v St.Etienne
Troyes v Nancy

Sunday

Lyon v Reims
Nice v Toulouse
Bordeaux v Marseille

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