Manchester City seek to seize moment against PSG

Photo credit: AFP

Photo credit: AFP

European expansionists Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain resume their pursuit of new frontiers on Tuesday with their Champions League quarter-final delicately balanced at 2-2 following last week’s first leg.

Both clubs are fueled by vast Middle Eastern wealth and both have landmarks in sight: for Qatar-backed PSG, a first semi-final appearance since 1995; for UAE-funded City, an unprecedented last-four berth.

Away goals by Kevin De Bruyne and Fernandinho at the Parc des Princes unexpectedly left City in the driving seat, but the attacking armada at PSG coach Laurent Blanc’s disposal means that his City counterpart Manuel Pellegrini will not instruct his side to sit on their advantage.

“I think that the most important aspect of this team is always to score,” Pellegrini said.

“We are working here for around three years and for three years I always have the same answer. It is a team that is prepared to score goals, a team that is prepared to play.

“If we think that tomorrow (Tuesday) we need to try to draw 0-0, I think that we are going to lose the game. It’s not in the way we normally play.

SEE MORE: Predicted lineups for Manchester City vs. Paris Saint-Germain

“Tomorrow you will see the same team that you have seen the last two and a half seasons here.”

With PSG having already successfully defended their Ligue 1 crown and on course to repeat last season’s domestic quadruple, they were widely expected to get the better of City, who are 15 points behind leaders Leicester City in the Premier League.

But City seized the opportunities that came their way in Paris, going ahead via De Bruyne and then equalizing through Fernandinho after a freak Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal and a close-range Adrien Rabiot effort appeared to have given Blanc’s men control of the tie.

The result was a major anti-climax for PSG, eliminated at this stage of the tournament for the past three seasons, and their disappointment was hardened by bookings for centre-back David Luiz and midfielder Blaise Matuidi that ruled both players out of the second leg.

– ‘Immense expectation’ –

Marquinhos will deputize for his Brazilian compatriot Luiz at the Etihad Stadium, but Marco Verratti, sidelined for seven weeks with a groin injury, seems unlikely to step in for Matuidi after Blanc said on Monday that he would require a “miracle” to play.

City will also be bereft of vital experience in central defense, with Pellegrini declaring captain Vincent Kompany unavailable despite his return to training on Monday after a calf injury.

In Kompany’s absence, Eliaquim Mangala will continue to deputize alongside Nicolas Otamendi, who will play despite twisting his ankle in Saturday’s 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.

Raheem Sterling is out with a groin problem, while Samir Nasri is ineligible, having returned to action following a hamstring injury earlier than anticipated, but David Silva and Yaya Toure are both fit after recent lay-offs.

With Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and defending champions Barcelona in varying situations of peril in their own last-eight ties, the path to the final for Tuesday’s victors could be less arduous than expected.

Both teams yearn for success in Europe, but with PSG starved of the international exposure that City take for granted in the Premier League, elimination would be a particularly bitter pill for them to swallow.

“It’s true that we’ve reached the quarter-finals three times. I understand the immense expectation, but if we reach the semi-finals, there will be expectation for the final,” Blanc said.

“And it won’t stop until the day Paris Saint-Germain win the European Cup. That’s a certainty, with or without me.

“As long as PSG haven’t won the European Cup, there will be an expectation and everyone will be under pressure — last 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, final.

“You have to win the final because the project of the club is to win the European Cup. But we also have to show progress and tomorrow we have a chance to confirm that progress.”

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