Together... again – Paris Saint-Germain vs Manchester City Preview
As their schedule shows no signs of easing up, Manchester City are returning to the home of last season's UCL semi-finalists in Paris Saint-Germain. Stirring speeches in the dressing room meant a 2-1 victory last time, but will that be enough on Tuesday night?
Paris Saint-Germain vs Manchester City is live on BT Sport 2 in the UK with coverage from 7 pm BST and kick off at 8 pm BST.
City's last trip as the away team in the Champions League was, coincidentally, to Paris Saint-Germain where after an opening 20-minute scare, Guardiola's side won 2-1. The Blues were resounding after Marquinhos' opening goal for PSG and put in one of their greatest performances at the Etihad in the second leg. However, as Guardiola has said those games mean nothing now - this is a new season and with the added threat of Messi, Donnarumma, Ramos and more for the Parisians, this is an incredibly uncomfortable fixture between 2 others in Chelsea away, where City ran the game and won 1-0 and a trip to Anfield at the weekend to finish this run off. This is about as brutal as it gets.
The weekend's 1-0 win was City's 5th league clean sheet in a row, the defence have been impeccable since the opening day defeat to Spurs and with other results over the weekend going City's way with Liverpool, Spurs and our neighbours from Salford all dropping points, City have gone from written off to favourites near immediately. The press never learn when it comes to City! However, PSG are a stern test for Dias and co. They handled the Parisians near-perfectly last season, and whilst less is riding on this game with City widely expected to progress from the group, putting in another top performance is critical for morale and confidence.
Ilkay Gundogan and Oleks Zinchenko are absent from the travelling squad through injury, and whilst both are expected back within weeks, this game is still too soon. The squad was noted for its inclusion of youngsters James McAtee and left-back Josh Wilson-Esbrand who both made their senior debuts in the 6-1 Carabao Cup victory over Wycombe where Wilson-Esbrand started and made a hugely positive impression on the senior setup, getting his first assist. De Bruyne and Foden are up to fitness and playing well in the middle of the park. With Laporte starting at the weekend and Stones being on the bench, the Blues are back up to strength at centre back with all of City's first-team options available for selection in this game.
I would expect change from the weekend against Chelsea. City were magnificent, they ran the game from start to finish allowing Chelsea absolutely nothing on target, but with a stern test v Liverpool at the weekend, resting some players would be ideal for City. The big question mark really, remains how Guardiola might want to set up his front line. The double false 9 is fascinating and can bring chaos to opposing defenders. However, the use of a more direct presence in Ferran Torres might be useful for City here and one I think Guardiola might twist on. Parisian boy Riyad Mahrez should play too, he dominated PSG in both legs last season and should be tasked to do so again. Predicted XI: Ederson; Walker, Dias, Laporte, Cancelo; Rodri, Bernardo; Grealish, De Bruyne; Mahrez; Torres.
Paris Saint-Germain have had an excellent start to their league campaign as per. 8 played, 8 won, 22 scored. However, they could only get a point v Club Brugge on their opening game of the Champions League. Messi is yet to score, Mbappe and Neymar are considered to be at a tense point in their friendship and partnership and whilst it hasn't boiled over onto the pitch, any tensions could allow City to settle easily, especially if their linkup isn't as expected.
Donnarumma is rumoured to get his first start in Europe for PSG between the sticks but aside from that, I wouldn't expect anything too unusual from the Parisians. Messi and Verratti have both been passed as fit which is a huge plus for them. New boys Hakimi and Wijnaldum should play a part as well. Predicted XI: Donnarumma; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Diallo; Wijnaldum, Gueye, Verratti; Neymar, Mbappe, Messi.
Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande Assistants: Pau Cebrián Devis and Roberto Alonso Fernández
Fourth official: Santiago Jaime Latre
VAR: Juan Martínez Munuera
Assistant VAR: Christian Dingert
UEFA Referee Observer: Markus Nobs
UEFA Delegate: Myrsini Psarropoulou Cerro Grande was the man in the middle as City progressed to the UCL semi-finals last season as they ran out 2-1 winners over Borussia Dortmund in Germany.