Josh Mart takes the chance to preview PSG’s trip to the Etihad Stadium to face Manchester City in the second leg of this enticing UEFA Champions League quarter final. The first leg last Tuesday at the Parc des Princes ended in an entertaining (if not especially quality ridden) 2-2 draw which undoubtedly left the Man City camp feeling the most satisfied.
Both sides looked dangerous going forward, yet this could be to do with both sides insecurities at the back. The two away goals should sway the tie in Manchester City’s favour, but PSG will fancy themselves to score at least once in Manchester this evening.
Manchester City have recently been struggling in the Premier League, but Saturday’s 2-1 victory at home to West Brom has seen the Citizens record back to back wins in the league for the first time since October, a somewhat remarkable stat considering the wealth of options Pellegrini has at his disposal.
The return of man of the match Samir Nasri was a huge boost for Man City, but he is unavailable for this one as he wasn’t included in the Champions League squad due to his injury woes. Pellegrini will be hoping that his injury hit squad can do the job here and make history by taking Man City to the semi-finals.
Laurent Blanc’s men have had the Ligue 1 title wrapped up for a long time and this has had a negative effect on the team’s performances in certain games. Saturday’s win at Guingamp was a routine 2-0 victory in which Blanc was able to rest key players such as Angel Di Maria and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Les Parisiens defended very poorly in the first leg, and will need to be much more solid if they are going to progress to the final stages of Europe’s elite competition. Having David Luiz missing may well help in this regard, as for all of his qualities, he seems to lack the discipline needed to make him a genuine ‘world class’ defender, as his 1st minute booking in the first leg shows.
Team News and Tactics
Pellegrini has bemoaned his sides injury problems this season, and he is still without key players such as Vincent Kompany and Raheem Sterling, but Yaya Toure and Kevin De Bruyne are set to return.
With this in mind, I expect Manchester City to lineup in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with the same back 5 that started in Paris expected to be named; Hart, Sagna, Otamendi, Mangala and Clichy (right to left).
If Toure is deemed fit enough to start, he will come in for either Fernando or Fernandinho to provide a bit more attacking impetus. De Bruyne, Silva and Navas are set to start to provide creativity and support for Aguero, who had an unusually off game at the Parc des Princes last week. I think that City will look to take the game to PSG, as manager Manuel Pellegrini has stated the importance of not playing for a draw.
Laurent Blanc has many concerns ahead of this one. David Luiz and Blaise Matuidi are suspended due to booking picked up in the first leg. Verratti remains on the sidelines and Pastore is doubtful, so Blanc has a real selction headache in midfield.
With this in mind I expect PSG to lineup in a 4-3-3 formation, with Trapp in goals and a back four of Aurier, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva and Maxwell. In midfield, Stambouli could join Thiago Motta and Rabiot, but I think Blanc will opt to play Di Maria in this position and play Lucas Moura in the front 3 with Ibrahimovic and Cavani.
The only problem with this, is that it leaves Blanc with little star quality on the bench if things aren’t going to plan.
Aguero (Man City) – The Argentine hitman will be eager to fire Man City even deeper into the history books and he has all the talent at his disposal to be able to do so. He has provided so many unforgettable moments in his Manchester City career, and the City faithful will be hoping for another one tonight.
Di Maria (PSG) – PSG will need key players to step up here, as all had inconsistent performances in the first leg. Di Maria has great pace and very good vision, and he will be hoping to get one over on his former rivals here.
Like the first match, this game is so very hard to predict. Both teams seem very dangerous going forward but struggle to keep goals out at the other end and this could set the tone again here. PSG have to be positive and Man City also can’t afford to sit back because that’s not what they are about. I think both teams will score but Man City may just edge it and go through on away goals.
Prediction: Man City 1-1 PSG