Written by Damian Kayat for Hollywoodbets.
Manchester City v P.S.G | Tuesday 12 April | Etihad Stadium | 20:45
The battle of European football’s premier financial insurgents sees Manchester City hold a degree of control with two surprise away goals last week. The first leg really illustrated the enormous pressure resting on both sides, with a slew of amateurish errors defining the game.
P.S.G have to play catch up and will be without some key players through suspension. City, on the other hand, have some players on the brink of return and face some intriguing dilemmas in terms of selection. This match represents a watershed moment for two sides desperately seeking to become entrenched fixtures in the latter stages of Champions League football.
To Win (90 Mins)
Manchester City 18/10
The return of Kevin De Bruyne has completely reinvigorated the entire fabric of the City side. The Bony experiment once again failed at West Brom, with Pellegrini having to turn to the Belgian playmaker to turn the match in their favour. De Bruyne’s creativity and unselfish attitude sets him apart from some of the prima donnas in his club. Samir Nasri is not in the squad despite performing well at the weekend, while Yaya Toure could be set to return this week. I would have been reticent to reintegrate his languid style into the side had Matuidi been on the pitch. Luckily for City, the dynamic Frenchman midfielder is suspended and allows Pellegrini to be slightly more adventurous in his selection.
Pellegrini’ biggest decision of the night will be whether or not to include Vincent Kompany in the starting line-up on Tuesday night. City were defensively fragile last week and will realize the danger presented by Ibra and Di Maria in particular. I feel like Pellegrini’s hand will be forced due to the do or die nature of this game. Sterling will remain on the sidelines while Silva is expected to return to his familiar number ten position. Aguero will be looking to capitalize on the absence of Luiz while Navas provides the width on the right-hand side. Furthermore, Kolarov was excellent against West Brom and may force Clichy onto the bench this week.
The suspensions of David Luiz and Matuidi will leave Blanc somewhat depleted going into this enormous match. Verrati is expected to return following his injury and will likely partner Motta in the middle of the pitch. They are a solid unit but lack the incandescent energy provided by Matuidi, which should encourage Yaya Toure to venture forward more freely. David Luiz’s absence will likely necessitate fellow countryman Marquinhos’ inclusion in the starting line-up. Aurier’s indefinite suspension from the club seems to be lifted as he was a surprise late inclusion in last week’s tie.
Ibrahimovic cut a somewhat frustrated figure last week. The iconic Swede managed to pinch a goal in farcical circumstances, but otherwise Ibra seemed to lack the dynamism that has rendered Ligue A’s golden boot award something of a damp squib. He will be hoping that he can exploit a City side still fundamentally naïve in defence. That is P.S.G’s greatest asset: City have to see the job through at home with all the conceivable variables in their favour. City have developed a penchant for underwhelming on big occasions, with their two disastrous defeats to Liverpool in the league emblematic of their schizophrenic nature.
Verdict: 1-1 Draw at 5/1
While P.S.G have overcome English opposition the last three times they met them in Europe, they have always had a lead going into the second leg. City’s two away goals will prove vital in this tie. Matuidi’s absence will be felt while Kompany’s inclusion should bring some stability to the back. Di Maria’s movement may cause problems; I do see P.S.G scoring at the Etihad. But De Bruyne’s intellectual approach should see City pose a considerable threat as they are likely to adopt a counter-attacking style, protecting their two-goal lead.
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