Manchester City will seek revenge for their defeat when they host Paris Saint-Germain at the Etihad Stadium for a Champions League Group A clash.

Both Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain will aim to seal qualification to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League when they go head-to-head at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.

The hosts have put their initial slump behind them and are gradually settling into their usual rhythm. Despite minor hiccups such as the Southampton draw, Crystal Palace home defeat, and elimination from the Carabao Cup at the hands of West Ham, they are in relatively good shape and on track to go deep in all three remaining fronts.

The Citizens’ bid for successive Premier League titles has gained momentum in recent weeks with a comprehensive 3-0 thrashing of Everton last weekend further strengthening their credentials, but manager Pep Guardiola remains focused on the prestigious European crown. The Sky Blues have brushed aside nearly everyone in Europe this season, barring their opponent this midweek, scoring 15 goals from four group stage games in the process.

The visitors, meanwhile, are coming on the back of a hard-fought 3-1 win over Nantes, with Lionel Messi scoring a goal to break his duck in French top-flight. Sitting atop Ligue 1 with an 11-point lead over second-placed OGC Nice, Les Parisiens are set for their seventh Ligue 1 triumph in nine years. The story is somewhat dissimilar in Europe; frustrating draws to Club Brugge and RB Leipzig mean the Belgian outfit can still catch them off-guard in an unlikely scenario.

PSG came out on top with a 2-0 win in the reverse fixture in September, with Lionel Messi bagging a superb individual goal. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two heavyweights, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Manchester City

Manchester City will again have to make do without the services of playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, who remains out for this fixture following his positive Covid-19 test, while it remains to be seen if Jack Grealish will be risked for this clash after missing the Everton win through a minor injury picked up on the international duty. Ferran Torres, meanwhile, is still recovering from a foot fracture and is ruled out for the midweek clash.

Young striker Liam Delap will also miss the game, while Ruben Dias and Riyad Mahrez may both return to the starting XI for this mammoth clash after being fully rested last weekend. Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola will probably deploy his preferred 4-3-3 formation with minor alterations from last Saturday.

Ederson is certain to start between the sticks. The Brazilian boasts tremendous distributions skills and will hope to keep a clean sheet in the midweek. Dias is expected to return at the heart of Manchester City’s four-man backline alongside John Stones. The two will try to form a resolute centre-half partnership to prevent any spaces for Kylian Mbappe and Neymar to pounce upon.

Joao Cancelo will provide a creative option at full-back. He can step inside, combine with teammates, and thread progressive passes into the front line, which has proven to be a valuable asset for City this season. At right-back, Kyle Walkers’ recovery pace could be essential in dealing with the explosive Mbappe.

Rodri will again pull the strings from the centre of the park after a match-winning display against Everton while he would also have the job of screening the back-four. Ilkay Gundogan is expected to start in central midfield, offering his trademark late runs into the box, while Bernardo Silva will slot in the attacking midfielder role with his work-rate vital to keep the tempo.

In the absence of Kevin De Bruyne, the onus will be on both Silva and Gundogan to provide the creative impetus and create clear-cut scoring opportunities for the forwards. Gabriel Jesus will lead the charge through the middle for Manchester City, while Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez will slot into the wider positions to form the supporting cast in a three-man frontline.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Cancelo; Silva, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, Jesus, Foden

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Paris Saint-Germain

PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino has no fresh injury concerns, with midfielders Rafinha and Julian Draxler the only injury absentees. In fact, their medical room has been cleared in recent days with several long-term absentees back to the fold. Former Real Madrid star Sergio Ramos could be ready for his much-anticipated debut in navy blue.

Pochettino has widely deployed a 4-3-3 formation and could persist with the same setup against Manchester City. Keylor Navas will continue to operate in goal with Gianluigi Donnarumma a major doubt due to gastroenteritis.

The reliable defensive pairing of Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe could feature in central defence looking to keep a check on City’s buzzing forwards. Nuno Mendes should start at the left-back position, whereas Achraf Hakimi will fill in on the other flank as the right-back. Both are very attack-minded full-backs and will be looking to dominate the flanks. They are expected to pin down their Man City counterparts, but they will also have to be wary of the threat going backwards and maintain their shape defensively.

Leandro Paredes and Idrissa Gueye are expected to fulfil the holding midfield roles in the midfield; the former is generally a classy operator who can screen the defence while also maintaining composure on the ball, while the latter offers energy to try and prevent opposition’s midfield runners. Marco Verratti will complete the midfield trio with his exceptional ability to carve out defences open with his passing a key asset for this game.

The much-famed front-three of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar could line up again to threaten the Man City defence. While they are well-known for their attacking talents, they will need to help their side defensively to get a result out of this tie. There are also signs of a blossoming partnership developing between Mbappe and Messi which could only be positive news for the Les Parisiens.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Mendes; Gueye, Paredes, Verratti; Messi, Mbappe, Neymar

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Key Stats

  • This will only be the seventh meeting between Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City in their history; the French giants boast a pretty underwhelming record in this fixture (W1 D2 L3).
  • Manchester City have the second-highest number of goals in Champions League group stages this season (15), with only Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich surpassing that figure (16). The Sky Blues are averaging around 3.4 expected goals (xG) per match.
  • Manchester City have now won three games in a row in all competitions, and they are also on an eight-game winning run at home in the Champions League.
  • Man City have netted at least twice in ten of their last twelve Champions League games while they have kept a clean sheet in all three of their last three home games against PSG.
  • PSG extended their unbeaten streak to seven games, winning five of them, with a 3-1 victory over Nantes, though the Parisian giants have only won two of their last six away games and have also lost their last two visits to the Etihad.

Player to Watch

Kylian Mbappe

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Messi may well be the talking point ahead of Wednesday, but his fellow forward Kylian Mbappe could well end up being the best player on the pitch. The Frenchman has been in sensational form this season and will again be looking to have a huge impact in the midweek against Manchester City. While there have been rumours spreading of him verbally agreeing to a move to Real Madrid next summer, his commitment and performances have not dropped a single bit in the navy blue.

The 22-year-old has already contributed with eight goals and 12 assists for PSG in all competitions, and with Neymar continuing to underdeliver on these big occasions, the onus will be on Mbappe and Messi to produce the goods if Les Parisiens are aiming for a positive outcome from this Champions League clash of titans.

Prediction

Manchester City 2-2 Paris Saint-Germain

With both sides looking to seal qualification to the next round, one can expect them to come out all guns blazing, which will make it a hugely intense and exciting encounter to watch. PSG have had a history of struggling to find the back of the net at the Etihad Stadium, but their latest goal-scoring feats with the renowned front three should provide them with enough firepower and inspiration to score at least once in this tie.

Manchester City work better as a whole functional unit, whereas PSG are filled with individual quality. The Citizens have overcome the initial slack this season with a series of stellar performances and are brimming with confidence at the moment. They will also have the home advantage, which can make a huge difference.

These types of blockbuster games are always hard to anticipate, with both teams boasting world-class players capable of turning the game on its head. As a result, The Hard Tackle predicts an entertaining 2-2 draw with both teams sharing the spoils. Neither manager will be happy with a point because it will further intensify the race to make the last-16 in Group A and take it to the very final matchday.

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