Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain battle it out for the second time in six days, with a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League up for grabs (7.45pm Tuesday, BT Sport Europe).
Man City secured a 2-2 draw in the first leg at the Parc des Princes last weeks, goals from Kevin De Bruyne (pictured) and Fernandinho cancelling out Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Adrien Rabiot’s strikes for the Ligue 1 leaders. It was an extremely accomplished performance from the Premier League side, who were happy to stand off their opponents and let them dominate possession before springing forward at pace on the counter-attack.
City may even have a few regrets that they were not able to secure a victory, although PSG certainly did enough throughout the 90 minutes to merit the draw. The tie is still very finely balanced, but the two away goals netted by City give them an excellent chance of advancing to the last four of Europe’s primary continental club competition for the first time in their history.
Manuel Pellegrini will again have to do without Raheem Sterling for the visit of Laurent Blanc’s men, although the Chilean is thought to be hopeful that David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany will shake off various knocks and ailments in time to feature. Samir Nasri and De Bruyne have continued to build up their match fitness after spells on the sidelines, while Yaya Toure could be included in the starting XI after recovering from an ankle injury in time to play a part in Saturday’s 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League, a triumph that keeps City in pole position to claim fourth spot and a place in the final qualifying round of next season’s edition of the Champions League.
PSG, meanwhile, are reportedly considering selecting Marco Verratti for Tuesday’s encounter, despite the fact that the Italy international has not played since a 4-1 defeat of Stade Reims in February. Blanc, however, dismissed such stories by insisting it would be a “miracle” if Verratti recovered in time to start at the Eithad Stadium.
David Luiz is suspended after picking up a booking within seconds of kick-off in the first leg last Wednesday, with compatriot Marquinhos set to partner Thiago Silva in the heart of the PSG backline in the former Chelsea man’s absence. Blaise Matuidi is also banned, while Kevin Trapp and Layvin Kurzawa are injured and Serge Aurier could be dropped after a poor performance against Man City first time around.
With the scores level at the halfway point, it is very difficult to predict the final outcome of this quarter-final tie. PSG were understandably considered the favourites to progress both when the draw was made and prior to last week’s first game, but the fact that City have two away goals on the board and the home leg to come means that many now consider Pellegrini’s charges to be in the stronger position.
PSG’s various fitness and suspension issues makes things easier for Man City, too, but on the flip side the French champions’ squad is still full of seasoned internationals and top-class European stars who can step in and conjure up moments of magic from nothing. With City extremely unconvincing at the back this term, they may find it difficult to keep PSG’s myriad of attacking talents at bay.
Taking everything into account, the good result secured in Paris last week means City can win on Tuesday and reach the last four of the Champions League. De Bruyne has been excellent since returning to the fold and looks a good choice to open the scoring.