Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Paris Saint German v Manchester City - Preview

PSG meet Manchester City
Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart is fit to play against Paris St-Germain in Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg.

England international Hart, 28, has been out since injuring a calf in the 1-0 Premier League defeat by Manchester United on 20 March.

He took part in training on Tuesday before travelling to Paris.

"Hart has had medical and physical tests and has no problems to play," said manager Manuel Pellegrini.

City are in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time and face a team that has reached this stage of the competition in four successive seasons.

Pellegrini is not planning to take a cautious approach.

"We are not coming to Paris to draw 0-0. We'll play our usual way," he added. "Both teams have a chance to continue to the next stage and that chance is 50-50 for each team."

PSG boss Laurent Blanc does not believe his side are favourites to progress to the last four, but says City are "behind" the French champions in Europe.

"Manchester City had the same project a bit before Paris St-Germain," said the former Manchester United defender.

"They managed to win their domestic league, which is not an easy task, and some other titles, but maybe in Europe maybe they're a bit behind us."

Blanc suggested the Premier League's intensity has hampered the ability of English sides to pose a stronger challenge for European trophies.

Only Manchester United (2011) and Chelsea (2012 and 2014) have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League since 2010.

"Maybe England is more competitive but I don't see many English teams in the semi-finals of the European competitions over the last five or six years," said Blanc.

"Maybe they have reached a further level in terms of fatigue. You need to find a right balance. There are problems in every domestic league."

City midfielder Yaya Toure will miss the game with a heel injury, while forward Raheem Sterling is sidelined by a groin problem.

PSG's former Manchester United forward Angel di Maria is available after being rested for Saturday's 4-1 win over Nice.

Laurent Blanc
I have excellent memories of Manchester from when I was playing for Manchester United. We used to drive by the City training ground on the way to ours, but I think it's no longer there.

The city itself has transformed a lot. It used to be very post-industrial, but it has flourished into quite a charming place now. On the sporting front, City are reducing their deficit to United and becoming a great club again – let's not forget they were strong in the 1970s.

They say experience can make the difference in ties such as this and that every detail counts. After the draw, some were relieved and said it was a good one for us as we avoided the two giants, Barcelona and Bayern. I strongly warned my players not to listen to that. Those who say that don't understand anything about football.

We'll be up against a team with quality and quality in depth – their squad overall has much more quality than ours. These will be two difficult and delicate games.

Manuel Pellegrini, City manager
It'll be difficult but I believe we have a chance. Paris are a very good team, with a project similar to Manchester City in a sense, trying to grow year by year. Both teams have an opportunity to push on. I don't think there's a clear favourite in this tie.

It was important this season for us to win our group for the first time, and then we won in the round of 16 for the first time. We will see what happens against Paris.

Joe Hart has worked without any problem for the last few days and we tested him today. There's always a risk when a player returns from injury, but I don't think there's a problem with him playing.

Paris now hold a 25-point lead over second-placed Monaco (the record is 17) and Ibrahimović, on 30 league goals, has twice as many as anyone else in the division this term.

City returned to form and remain in the Premier League's top four after a quick start against a team they had last visited 16 years ago in England's third tier. Fernando opened his goal account for the campaign and, back from injury, Kevin De Bruyne volleyed in his first goal since 26 December.

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