Pep's City on verge of Champions League final in Istanbul - Manchester City (2) vs (1) PSG Preview
Manchester City will face Paris Saint Germain at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night knowing that the Blues will progress to their first-ever Champions League final if they avoid defeat by 2 or more goals. Pep Guardiola's side came from behind to secure a vital first-leg in Paris with goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez, and they'll be relying on the Belgian to provide an inspiring moment once more to send some through to the showpiece final, in Istanbul, at the end of May.
Manchester City are targeting a first Champions League final, which will be held at the Ataturk Olympic stadium in Istanbul. Kick-off vs PSG is 20:00 BST on BT Sport 2 HD.
Referee: Björn Kuipers
Assistants: Sander van Roekel, Erwin Zeinstra
VAR: Pol van Boekel
Assistant VAR: Dennis Higler
Manchester City have a fully-fit squad for this game. With Sergio Aguero on target at the weekend, the striker will undoubtedly be giving his manager a selection headache, despite it being expected that Guardiola will name an unchanged XI from the first-leg - perhaps only Zinchenko coming in for Cancelo after the Ukrainian impressed in Paris after replacing Cancelo in the second half. The boss also had praise for Raheem Sterling, who with his recent performances is starting to find his feet. The winger is building a case to be included in the starting XI again for a game that two years ago he would've been a certain starter.
Potential XI (MCI): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko; Rodri, Gundogan, Bernardo; Mahrez, De Bruyne, Foden (4-3-3)
Nathan Ake, Scott Carson, and James Trafford are likely to fill the three additional Champions League bench positions, with Pep Guardiola confirming that Eric Garcia is out with sickness.
It's been well documented over the last few days that Kylian Mbappe has been dealing with a leg injury that he picked up at the end of the visitors' game against Metz last week. The Frenchman then played the first-leg but was pictured various times in obvious discomfort, which has since led to him being ruled out of PSG's squad for the weekend's win over Lens. Mbappe has travelled to the Etihad Stadium though and it's safe to presume that he'll start in a game of this magnitude. Idrissa Gueye is suspended though after he was given a straight red card in the first leg, which makes him one of the only marquee absentees.
Potential XI (PSG): Navas, Florenzi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Bakker; Paredes, Herrera; Di Maria, Verratti, Neymar; Mbappe
Kevin De Bruyne and Neymar will be at the centre of the action when Man. City host PSG at the Etihad Stadium. Both will be aiming to lead their side to the Champions League final.
Where will be the game be won?
City's defence has been remarkable this season and held PSG to a single goal as the French champions poured the pressure on early at the Parc Des Princes and they'll have to be at their best again if they're to reach the Champions League final. PSG will bring the game to City and will try to score early, so keeping Neymar and co at bay in the early stages will be essential in securing the required result and winning the tie. Neymar has spoken and said that he will "die on the pitch" to beat City, so the Blues will have to be at their defensive best with the Brazilian expected to bring his best performance possible. City's false-nine system worked to perfection in the latter stages of the game in Paris and Pep will use that system again. That's an area where the boss will target, to dominate the midfield and nullify the threat of Marco Verratti and further up the pitch, Neymar of course. Swarming the midfield will mean that Neymar has as little space as possible, and that will be essential if City want to keep their opponents at bay.
Stopping Neymar will be key to victory at the Etihad Stadium.
The rapid rise of both sides
These two sides have only ever met once in the Champions League at the Etihad Stadium, a 2016 encounter that culminated in a Kevin De Bruyne winner to send Manchester City to the Champions League semi-final for the very first time. That game is symbolic of how far the two sides have come since that fixture, with PSG since signing Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in their pursuit of forming a superteam, and Manchester City signing several new players as they have become a serial winning machine domestically. They'll be hoping that after the game tomorrow, they'll be one game away from winning not only in their own country but continentally too. If the Blues pass the test of PSG, they will face either Real Madrid or Chelsea in the showpiece final.
Manchester City beat PSG 1-0 (3-2) at the Etihad Stadium in 2016, with a De Bruyne stunner being the difference. The same scoreline tomorrow would have the Blues in their first-ever final.