What to know before Man City’s UCL clash with PSG
After defeating Dortmund 4-2 on aggregate, Man City are officially into the Champions League semi-final.
Awaiting them in the penultimate round is PSG – with Chelsea and Real Madrid also jostling for a place in the final.
Man City and PSG are considered as the top two clubs remaining in the tournament – with the winner of their clash tipped to scoop the trophy overall.
Ahead of the highly-anticipated first leg on April 28, here’s what you need to know.
Typically, the Premier League table feels like an all-out fist fight you’d watch while betting on the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, as it’s ordinarily highly competitive. Not this year, however, as Man City are running away with the title – currently with an 11-point lead over Manchester United.
PSG are all too familiar with double-digit leads in their league as they’ve finished each of the past three years with such advantage. But 2020-21 is a different story. At the moment, PSG are runners-up in Ligue 1, three points behind Lille.
These divergent league paths partly explain why City are slight favourites to edge PSG, at least according to the online bet-makers. Few teams in the world have played to the calibre of Guardiola’s team since the season began.
Pressure busts pipes or makes diamonds
The weight of the world is seemingly on City right now. Not only is a Champions League and Premier League championship in their crosshairs, but so is an FA Cup and League Cup. No club in history has swept all four tournaments in a single year.
You can look at this pursuit of history in one of two ways: Either the pressure will force Man City to falter in at least one of their trophy chases. Or, on the flip side, City will feed off the pressure and pull off the unprecedented quadruple win.
Speaking of pressure, PSG have developed a reputation — whether fair or not — for choking in pressure-cooked moments, especially come Champions League time. But is that still fair to say?
In the quarter-finals, PSG eliminated Bayern Munich, the reigning champions who happened to defeat them in last year’s final. Give credit where credit is due, PSG went on the road and pulled off a gutsy 3-2 win with two goals from Kylian Mbappe – winning on aggregate despite a 1-0 defeat in the second tie. The PSG of old may not have held on.
Make no mistake, City and PSG are desperate to get their hands on a Champions League title – a trophy which has so far eluded both these clubs despite aggressively spending over the last decade.
Who has the edge on the pitch?
Any discussion about PSG begins with their attack. Mbappe and Neymar are as good as it gets in terms of a football frontline. Any magic from them, even for a split second, could create problems for Man City’s defence – especially if City aren’t tactful in possession.
Nevertheless, we can’t overlook that City should be at full-strength against PSG. Paris dodged a bullet last round with Robert Lewandowski — one the world’s top footballers — nursing an injury and missing both matches for Bayern. No such issues are expected for City.
All in all, this semi-final tie feels like it could be a trophy decider. Both PSG and City are red-hot for different reasons – and they’ve never had a better chance to win the coveted cup. We’ll see what unfolds two weeks from now when both collide.