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MILAN

Zlatan ‘among world’s best footballers’: Barcelona star

Centre-back Gerard Pique admitted his Barcelona team-mates will have to be wary of AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic when the teams clash in the Champions League quarter-final first leg in Milan on Wednesday.

Zlatan 'among world's best footballers': Barcelona star

The big Swede spent one season at Barca, where he won the Spanish title, before allegedly falling out with coach Pep Guardiola.

He was sold to Milan where he became an instant hit, despite previous spells at their main rivals Inter Milan and Juventus.

Although Ibrahimovic’s Catalan experience went sour, Pique still holds him in very high regard.

“Ibra is a very difficult opponent,” said the former Manchester United defender.

“He’s a complete player — he’s good in the air, he can play on the floor, he can play with his back to goal and hold the ball up.

“We’ll have to be very concentrated so we don’t make any mistakes or leave space when he has the ball.

“It’s a pleasure to play against him as he’s one of the best players in the world right now. It was a pleasure to have him at Barcelona and he contributed to our success.

“We will do everything to ensure he doesn’t play well or score but it’s not just our defence but the whole team that will have to play well to contain him.”

The two sides met in the group stage, with Ibrahimovic injured for the 2-2 draw at Camp Nou and a scorer in the blaugrana’s 3-2 success at San Siro.

Ahead of Wednesday’s match, he said that Milan’s players need to do the club’s proud history justice and remember who they play for.

“We have to play like Milan, which means attacking, I don’t like playing tactically at home,” said Ibrahimovic, the top scorer in Serie A this season.

“We need to score and prepare for a good return leg. They have an idea of how to play and they always follow it.

“It’s an important game for everyone, tradition says Milan have always done well in the Champions League and this story needs to continue.”

According to Pique, having played against each other already this season is both an advantage and a disadvantage.

“The best thing is that we know them better but the worst thing is that they know us better,” he said.

“It will be more difficult because of knowing each other better, because each will know how to attack and defend against the other.

“We’ll just try to impose our style and score goals, which is very important in the Champions League.”

AFP/The Local

twitter.com/thelocalsweden

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IBRAHIMOVIC

Zlatan has been ‘cured’ of coronavirus: AC Milan

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been given the all-clear to end his quarantine period and return to action after testing negative for coronavirus, the Serie A club announced on Friday.

Zlatan has been 'cured' of coronavirus: AC Milan
Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after scoring a goal in September. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP
Milan confirmed in a statement that the Swedish striker had “tested negative” twice in a row, as stipulated in the protocol to be able to lift the quarantine procedure.
   
Ibrahimovic, 39, sounded a more triumphal note on his social media: “You are cured! The health authority says the quarantine is over, you can go out!”, he wrote on Twitter.

The announcement comes a day after Milan said Ibrahimovic had tested positive a second time for Covid-19, putting in doubt his participation in the Milan derby on October 17.
 
   
Ibrahimovic first tested positive on September 24.
   
The derby remains in doubt with two other Milan players and five from Inter currently in self-quarantine.
   
In spite of his absence, Milan have made a decent start to the season, having climbed to second in Serie A after winning all three of their games and reaching the group stages of the Europa League.
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