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Sports

PSG join Euro heavyweights Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus in fight for multiple trophies

media PSG boss Laurent Blanc is attempting an unprecedented quadruple with his side. Reuters/Charles Platiau

Paris St Germain, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus are competing on several fronts as the European football season reaches its climax.

Much of the analysis and punditry in the prelude to PSG's semi-final against St Etienne on Wednesday night centred on PSG's heavy workload over 23 days. They faced eight games in that time as their hunt for four trophies continued.

But the team from the capital entered the gruelling phase in fine fettle. They had the tincture of champions having edged out title chasing rivals Marseille 3-2 on 5 April to keep them a point ahead of second placed Lyon in Ligue Un with seven games remaining.

And PSG eased into the final of the French Cup on Wednesday beating fellow Ligue Un side St Etienne 4-1. Sweden star Zlatan Ibrahimovic hitting a hat trick in the rout.

It's all very well talking about doubles, trebles and quadruples, the fact of the matter is to produce the hardware. And PSG can snaffle their first trophy of the season on Saturday when they take on Bastia at the Stade de France in the League Cup final.

Their bid to add a ninth Coupe de France and potentially a second piece of silverware of the season will come at the Stade de France against second division Auxerre on 30 May.

By that time Ibrahimovic 33-year-old Ibrahimovic may well have rewritten the PSG history books. His three goals against St Etienne on Wednesday night before his adoring home fans pushed him into second place in the all time PSG scoring charts. With 102 goals he passed Dominique Rocheteau and is only seven behind the former Portugal international Pedro Miguel Pauleta who thrashed in 109 goals during his years with PSG but that was well before the Qatari megabucks started flowing into PSG's coffers.

It was hardly surprising that Ibrahimovic shone against St Etienne. The team from just outside Lyon appear to be fall guys in his glory trail. Before the meeting at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday night, Ibrahimovic had played against them eight times scoring eight goals. The tally now stands at 11 goals in nine games.

PSG manager Laurent Blanc will be hopeful that Ibrahimovic will be equally prolific against Bastia on Saturday.

The Swede won't be available for the first leg of the uefa champions league quarter-final against Barcelona on Wednesday at the Parc des Princes. His absence follows his sending off during the second leg of their last 16 clash at Chelsea last month.

Even with Ibrahimovic in the ranks, the two ties against Barcelona will be difficult but they will provide the litmus test of the advances PSG have made since Qatari Sports Investments became sole shareholders in 2012. The influx of millions of euros and the arrival of the likes of Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavazzi, David Luiz and Thiago Silva aren't just for League Cup wins against fourth division Bastia.

Over the Alps in Italy Juventus can't boast the same kind of cash as PSG but the Turin giants are regrouping purposefully. They have a chance of a domestic double. In Serie A, Juventus are 14 points clear of second placed Roma in the first division with eight games to go.

And the Turin giants moved into the final of the Coppa Italia on Tuesday night following a 3-0 victory over Fiorentina.

Trailing two one from the first leg, Alessandro Matri levelled things up on aggregate midway through the first half. Roberto Pereyra gave Juve the advantage on the stoke of half time and Leonard Bonucci sealed the win on the hour mark.

Juventus are also into the last eight of the uefa champions league. They haven't reached such heights since 2013.

The progress is vindication for new coach Massimo Allegri.

The 47-year-old took over at the start of the season succeeding Antonio Conte who left to take charge of the Italy national team.

Conte had led Juventus to three Serie A titles on the trot following their relegation to Serie B in the wake of a match fixing scandal.

Alessandra Bocci is a football writer at the Gazetto dello Sport. She told RFI that Allegri has worked hard to shine.

"It's been very difficult to do something good and be accepted by the fans because Conte was a hero for them. He was the man who made everything possible for Juventus. When he arrived Juventus was destroyed by scandal and they were down in the second division.

"Conte and Juventus did everything. They won three titles and so it's been difficult for Allegri."

But it appears that the former AC Milan coach is emerging from Conte's trophy laden shadow. He has steered them to within touching distance of a fourth consecutive Serie A title. Only an apocalyptic meltdown will deprive them of that.

If his side can overcome Lazio over two legs in the Coppa Italia final, he'll add that bauble to the trophy cabinet for the first time since 1995.

And should his side beat Monaco, it will be their first appearance in the last four of the uefa champions league since 2002

"It's been very difficult for the Juve fans to accept another coach," added Bocci. "Especially a coach whose team were rivals for the title. But I think Allegri's been really clever. He hasn't said anything provocative, he's got on with his work and he's given something new to the club and to the team.

"I think he was underestimated by supporters at AC Milan, it's a little bit like that at Juventus but he's getting on with his work. It looks as if he'll win the Italian league and he might do better than Conte in Europe."

Bayern Munich are used to performing on myriad fronts. In 2013, under Jupp Heynckes they completed a treble of uefa champions league, Bundesliga and German Cup.

By contrast it was slim pickings in 2014, they picked up just the Bundesliga and the German Cup.

They're into the semis of the German cup after disposing of Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday night. They take on Porto in the last eight of the champions league and Bayern are 10 points clear with seven games to go in the Bundesliga.

It will be considered a huge shock if Die Bayern don't progress to the last four as they pursue their second treble in three years.

By comparison Barcelona don't have a double digit cushion at the top of La Liga. On Wednesday night, they thrashed Almeria 4-0 to remain four points clear of Real Madrid with eight games to go. Luis Suarez bagged a brace and Lionel Messi was also on target in the game. Those two are expected to feature 15 April against PSG in the champions league.

Barcelona's first chance of a trophy will come on 30 May when they take on Athletic Bilbao in the final of the Copa del Rey. A week later it's the uefa champions league final in Berlin.

Will the Catalans grace the showdown? PSG's stars will answer that question over the next few weeks.

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