Cyprus Mail
Champions League

History beckons for Man City against PSG

Goals by Kevin de Bruyne and Fernandinho in Paris mean that Manuel Pellegrini’s men have an excellent chance of qualifying for the Champions League last four

MANCHESTER City look to take an important step in their transformation into one of the world’s leading clubs on Tuesday (9.45pm) by reaching the Champions League semi-finals for the first time.

To do so England’s last survivors need a win or a 0-0 or 1-1 draw at home to Paris St Germain after holding the Ligue 1 champions 2-2 at the Stade de France last week.

For three successive seasons since first qualifying for Europe’s premier club competition, City were frustrated in their attempts to make significant progress.
They failed to come out of the group stage in 2012-13 and then lost in the last 16 in the following two years.

This time City won Group D ahead of Juventus before knocking out Dinamo Kiev 3-1 on aggregate.
Goals by Kevin de Bruyne and Fernandinho in Paris mean that Manuel Pellegrini’s men have an excellent chance of qualifying for the last four.
Their hopes were boosted when coach Pellegrini said leading scorer Sergio Aguero would be fit despite limping off in the 2-1 Premier League win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

“He had just a kick, it’s not a problem,” the Chilean told reporters.

City captain Vincent Kompany though will not make his return from injury Pellegrini added. Central defender Kompany, who took part in the open section of a training session, has endured an injury-disrupted campaign and a recurrence of a calf problem has kept the Belgium international on the sidelines for nearly a month.
“He is not 100 per cent. It is not possible,” Pellegrini said.

Midfielder David Silva, who missed Saturday’s win over West Brom due to a persistent ankle injury, has also returned to training. Winger Raheem Sterling and defender Nicolas Otamendi are still sidelined.

France midfielder Samir Nasri returned for the West Brom game but is not in the Champions League squad because of the lengthy thigh injury he suffered in October.
“The most important aspect of this team is to score. Do we think we need to draw 0-0? That’s not the way we normally play,” Pellegrini said.

“I don’t think one of the team is favourites. We went there to try and win the game and tomorrow we’ll do exactly the same.
“The important thing is to focus on getting to semi. After that you look at your opponent. We must play with the same trust.”

Defender Bacary Sagna believes the Citizens will be able to cope with the continued absence of Kompany. “Mangala has been strong in recent games so with or without Kompany we have a good team,” said Sagna.

“The first leg is in the past. You can only look forward. We’re at home in front of our fans. I’m sure we can deal with the pressure.
“To qualify would be amazing, I know Paris are going to come here to give us problems. I’m sure we can do it again.”

PSG coach Laurent Blanc was dismayed at conceding a scrappy second goal in the first leg and at losing defender David Luiz and midfielder Blaise Matuidi through suspension.

One bonus could be the return of Marco Verratti who is recovering faster than expected from a groin injury.

Blanc made nine changes, resting a number of players including striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for their 2-0 victory over Guingamp in Ligue 1 on Saturday.
Defender Marquinhos was included and then said he was fit to act as a possible replacement for Luiz on Tuesday.

The French club won 2-1 in England in the last round to knock out Chelsea and reach their fourth successive quarter-final.
PSG need a similar result to go one step further this time.

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