The eyes of the soccer world will be on RFK Stadium on Saturday night.
That’s where superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic will make his highly anticipated debut for Paris Saint-Germain when the rising French superpower takes on MLS side D.C. United in the 2012 Herbalife World Football Challenge (7:30 pm ET, tape delay on Fox Soccer at 10 pm ET).
Ibrahimovic, who joined the club on Tuesday and is expected to play at least 30 minutes, is one of a handful of major offseason player acquisitions by the free-spending Parisian club, who also splurged on AC Milan’s Thiago Silva (on Olympic duty for Brazil) and Napoli’s Ezequiel Lavezzi.
WATCH: DC United preview PSG match-up
PSG were impressive in their first WFC appearance, putting on a spectacular attacking display against European champions Chelsea FC last Sunday while settling for a 1-1 tie. Alongside Lavezzi, attackers Kevin Gameiro, Javier Pastore and goalscorer Nene picked apart the Chelsea back line in creating several first-half opportunities.
But Ancelotti will change things up against D.C. United, confirming that his attacking trident will feature Ibrahimovic, Gameiro and the preseason debut of the talented Jeremy Menez. Midfielder Mohammed Sissoko is the only PSG player out to injury as he continues his rehabilitation in Doha, Qatar.
So D.C. United, who sit in fourth place in the East, will have their hands full as they look to bounce back since dropping two straight league matches. D.C. playmaker Branko Boskovic, who’s battling a calf strain, will especially be looking forward to the match, having played for PSG from 2003-05.
If there’s any MLS manager equipped to battle a European force, it’s United manager Ben Olsen, who is coming off a successful stint as MLS All-Star manager with a 3-2 victory over Chelsea in midweek. Two of his players, Chris Pontius and reigning MVP Dwayne De Rosario, combined on one of the goals in that match.
Olsen and D.C. say they will bank on communication to defend against the runs off the ball by the PSG players. He should have a full complement of players to call on with rookie Lance Rozeboom and veteran Robbie Russell the only players lost to injury.
D.C. United will be back in MLS action on Saturday, Aug. 4 when they welcome the Columbus Crew, while PSG return to France to take on Barcelona on the same day in a final tuneup before the start of the French Ligue 1 season.