After a hard fought draw this past weekend, Atlanta United has turned their attention to a trip out west and a meeting with the LA Galaxy. A big talking point about LA is how Atlanta plans to try to stop star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He has made a total of three appearances for a total of 127 minutes so far this season, but has scored three goals in that short amount of time. Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz believes dealing with Zlatan will be a difficult task.
“You can really just hope to contain him,” he said. “He can score so many different ways, whether its with his head in the box, shooting from distance or combining with other players he can do a lot of different things so it will be important to defend with numbers and always make sure we’ve got a body on him when the ball is wide.”
Captain Michael Parkhurst gave us some intel on how the team plans to tactically defend against Zlatan.
“We’ll try to keep a high line. At his age he’s not a guy right now that's going to make too many runs in behind or burst past you with speed, but he’s still very strong and good on the ball in tight spaces. He also has the ability to take a guy one on one and get a shot off so we’ll definitely need to be aware of him.”
Parkhurst also mentioned the team isn't solely focusing on Zlatan.
“They do have some other very good attacking pieces as well, like Dos Santos and Ola Kamara. So it will be a tough challenge defensively.”
This match also has the possibility of being Ezequiel Barco’s first start for the club. After a few weeks back in training and a substitute appearance against NYCFC there is a good chance he is let loose this weekend. Midfielder Kevin Kratz thinks him returning from injury will give the team more options offensively.
“The quality he has on the attacking side of the ball is very impressive, he’s always able to find pockets of space to move the ball forward and take players on. Whether he is playing out wide or through the middle, he is always able to make himself dangerous with the ball.”
Michael Parkhurst believes Barco is recovering well and is ready to help the team.
“I think he looks even sharper than he did before his injury, he doesn't seem to be lingering at all. We aren't sure where exactly he’s going to play yet; but since we don't even know LA Galaxy definitely don't know, so that’ll be a bit of a surprise for them.”