PSG gear up for Benfica as Marseille humbled

PSG take on Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday with star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic insisting the French club should be considered as potential winers of the competition. The same cannot be said for Marseille, who were well-beaten by Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.

PSG gear up for Benfica as Marseille humbled
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (left) managed by Laurent Blanc (right) says PSG must be taken seriously as Champions League contenders. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes that Paris Saint-Germain are better placed to win the Champions League under Laurent Blanc than they were under his predecessor Carlo Ancelotti.

The Swedish striker was speaking on Tuesday on the eve of PSG's Group C encounter with Benfica at the Parc des Princes, in which he will wear the captain's armband in the absence of injured skipper Thiago Silva.

The French champions are unbeaten in all competitions under Blanc, but while their domestic form has not always been convincing, they romped to a 4-1 win away to Olympiakos in Greece in their opening group match a fortnight ago.

That win showcased Blanc's preferred 4-3-3 formation which brings the best out of the midfield trio of Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta and Blaise Matuidi and allows Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and record summer signing Edinson Cavani to play together in attack.

"He has given the team a lot of confidence and freedom for us to express ourselves," Ibrahimovic said when asked about the impact made by Blanc since he replaced Real Madrid-bound Ancelotti in June.

"We are playing a little differently, with three midfielders. With our squad he needs to try to keep everyone happy and that is his hardest job. When you are not on the pitch you are not happy. The coach knows what he is doing and he has a winner's mentality."

The former AC Milan and Barcelona striker, who turns 32 on Thursday, helped PSG reach the quarter-finals of last season's competition but believes they are equipped to do better this time around.

"There is a big difference compared to last year. This year, other teams know who PSG are. There is more respect for us. They know we are a contender to win the Champions League.

"The team is a year older and knows each other better and that makes a big difference.

"I have a lot of dreams and winning the Champions League would be more than perfect. We have a great chance with PSG.

"We have a fantastic team, a new coach, everything is there to win. But sometimes you need luck and there are little things that can make the difference. I signed a new contract and I hope to win this trophy with PSG," added last season's Ligue 1 player of the year, who last week extended his deal until 2016.

Meanwhile, Blanc confirmed that Javier Pastore would miss out due to injury against a Benfica side that won their opening group game 2-0 against Anderlecht.

However, he said that Alex had recovered from a thigh problem and would partner fellow Brazilian Marquinhos in central defence.

Marseille humbled again

Borussia Dortmund, beat Marseille 3-0 and will provide a stern test for Wenger's men in the upcoming double header.

Polish striker Robert Lewandowski gave them an early lead, finishing off a brilliant move by the German league leaders.

Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda was badly at fault for Dortmund's second in the second-half as apparently transfixed by the players rising in front of him, he allowed Marco Reus's long range freekick to beat him and cross the line.

Lewandowski, who is widely expected to sign for Dortmund's bitter domestic rivals Bayern Munich for next season, got a second as he slotted home a penalty with 10 minutes remaining.

Dortmund counterpart Jurgen Klopp had to watch his side win from the stands because of a UEFA ban, but he was delighted with what he saw.

"It was a great game, Marseille are a strong team and you have to give it everything you have against them.

"My team were prepared to stick their foot in the door and make sure of the win."

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IN PICTURES: How floods and a bin strike left Marseille submerged in waste

Torrential rain hit the city of Marseille in the south of France on Sunday and Monday, just days after local waste collectors ended a week-long strike, leading to fears of "catastrophic" waste making its way to the ocean.

IN PICTURES: How floods and a bin strike left Marseille submerged in waste
A man stands on a beach covered with cans following heavy rains and a strike of waste collectors in Marseille on October 5th. Photo: Nicolas TUCAT / AFP.

Marseille is located in the Bouches-du-Rhône département, which Météo France placed on red alert for heavy rain and flooding on Monday. Schools in the area shut and people were warned not to leave their homes as two months’ worth of rain fell in a single day in the Mediterranean city, after heavy rains had already caused flooding on Sunday night.

The situation was compounded by the fact that uncollected garbage was blocking storm drains in certain parts of the city – drains which would normally be cleared ahead of heavy rain – and making it more difficult for emergency services to intervene.

The city’s waste collectors had begun clearing the streets on Saturday after an agreement between unions and local authorities put an end to an eight-day strike over an increase to working hours.

But rain over the weekend made the monumental job even more difficult, and the result was that “rivers of rubbish” flowed through the city’s streets on Monday.

“Rubbish is everywhere. It’s a catastrophe,” biologist Isabelle Poitou, director of the MerTerre association, told AFP. “We’re expecting a strong mistral wind which will push the rubbish, which is currently making its way towards the sea, onto the beaches.”

“It’s vital to come and clear the rubbish from the beaches on Tuesday or Wednesday,” she added. “We need to act before the rubbish gets scattered in the sea at the first gust of wind.”

A woman collects waste on a beach after heavy rains and following a strike of waste collectors in Marseille.

A woman collects waste on a beach after heavy rains and following a strike of waste collectors in Marseille. Photo: Christophe SIMON / AFP.

The video below tweeted by BFMTV journalist Cédric Faiche shows the state of a beach in Marseille early on Tuesday morning. “It’s been cleaned several times but cans and different types of plastic continue to arrive…” Faiche wrote.

However, Faiche told BFM there are similar scenes every time there is heavy rain in Marseille, even if the strike has made the situation even worse.

Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin shared a video of the “sad scene” captured in Marseille on Sunday night. “Discussions between trade unions and the city must not make us forget what really matters: we are all responsible for our seas and our oceans!” she said.

“It’s unacceptable,” Christine Juste, deputy mayor in charge of the environment in Marseille told BFM on Tuesday, criticising the “lack of reactivity” in collecting leftover rubbish following the end of the strike on Friday.

“Why wait so long? In the 6th arrondissement, there has been no collection since the announcement that the strike was over,” she said.

IN PICTURES: See how the deluge has left parts of France’s Mediterranean coast submerged

The Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis intercommunal structure, rather than city hall, is in charge of rubbish collection in Marseille.

On Monday morning, the Metropolis dispatched 650 workers to clear away as much waste as possible ahead of the heaviest rainfall which was forecast for the afternoon.

On Monday evening, Marseille’s Mayor Benoît Payan told franceinfo that 3,000 tonnes of garbage were still yet to be collected in the city. “I asked the Prime Minister this evening to class the zone as a natural disaster,” he added.