The quarterfinal fixtures of this season’s UEFA Champions League was graced with interesting ties. Football fans made predictions and gave passage tickets even before the first blast of the whistle. It’s the culture of the game. More than emotions, football is a sport that never ceases to disappoint its followers because it has a good measure of huge expectations.
Both teams come into the fixture on the back of strong domestic performances with PSG defeating Metz 3-1 away from home and Manchester City also winning a fourth consecutive league cup by defeating Tottenham 1-0.
Citizens On The Move
The world of football expects Manchester City to bring an elusive continental trophy home. It is just appropriate after a decade of investment which runs into billions of pounds.
A lot has gone into the Citizens project and this year looks like their closest in a long time, but like previous seasons, the sleeping devil may be lurking.
Last season, Pep Guardiola looked flustered over two legs as Manchester City failed to overcome Lyon. It was a trench amongst their most elaborate lows. The pressure has since built up at the Etihad, although Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan hasn’t gone to town yet. Guardiola knows the Champions League is the holy grail and after spending more than half a billion pounds in his time in change, it’s just appropriate to deliver on the mandate. For that to happen, they knew defeating Borussia Dortmund would be a step in a great direction, and over two legs, they were able to climb the Yellow Wall.
Dortmund mustered a scare when they drew the first blood at the Signal Iduna Park but unlike previous seasons, City rose from their ills of old to book a ticket to the semifinal.
While the road in Dortmund may however be considered somewhat smoother for City, PSG couldn’t boast the same, but they took a pound of flesh.
Player Focus – Neymar vs Foden
Phil Foden is arguably the finest player in his age bracket in European football. Focused, humble and skillful, he goes about his business with ease and has earned the trust of Pep Guardiola who has justified his decision not to replace David Silva in the transfer window. Foden has been a shoe-in for the Spaniard.
He has a special feel to his ability and is as exciting to watch as the silky midfielders the game has seen.
At just 20, he has sent tongues wagging and has played in every Champions League game this season, starting in nine of them.
The world’s most expensive footballer and the man who brings the biggest games home, Neymar must come to the party if PSG will stand a chance of making it past City. At 29, the door on the major laurels in football is closing gradually and the Brazilian may fancy this as a chance to take it one step further and win the Champions League with PSG, and for the second time in his career, after all, that’s the reason they broke the bank to get him on board.
It’s high time, and it’s a high tide!
PSG sweat over the fitness of Kylian Mbappe after limping off their last league game.
Manchester City do not have any major injury worries ahead of the highly-important clash.
Rough Roads, Good Drivers
Bayern Munich, defending champions of Europe and the world gave PSG the biggest test of their mettle in the quarterfinal.
In succession, PSG have now defeated Barcelona and Bayern Munich, feats that are by no means easy.
It came as difficult as it could get but like Bin Zayed, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has also given PSG everything they need to conquer Europe. Last season, they came so close but only lost to a Bayern Munich that were not so superior on the night.
The man who took them to that final, Thomas Tuchel has since been dismissed and replaced with Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine took a modest Tottenham Hotspur to the final of the Champions League in 2019 but lost to Liverpool. He’s not a stranger to this stage of European football and with a more talented team at his beck and call, he may fancy his chances at aiming good shots at the big prize.
PSG vs Man City – Well-oiled Matchup
The leadership of PSG and Manchester City are deeply rooted in Arabian money-spinning oil ventures. Both teams are the only two state-owned teams in the world and have the Arabian tussle of Qatar and Abu Dhabi to settle. They are well-oiled by oil wells.
Both club investments are intentional and passion-driven diversification from the oil rigs. City and PSG are some of the highest spenders in European football and have never shown tiredness in bringing the moneybags out at the slightest necessity.
Both sides have been paired to face each other and many expect a good measure of fireworks and theatrics. Rough roads led to the ‘Oil Clasico’ but both teams have proved they are better drivers on such days. Again, it’s another opportunity to take a step closer to their great ambitions. While their somewhat similar ascension unites them, the allure for success will be the divisive factor when both teams clash.
Manchester City have come some way, from the appointment of Roberto Mancini to Manuel Pellegrini and now Guardiola, they know it’s high time they rode their waves and mastered the tides.
Come whatever the opposition may be, not winning the Champions League again will be dubbed failure, especially by disgruntled opposition fans who are yet to forgive the Citizens for changing the status quo.
PSG on their part have gone past many tutelages – from Laurent Blanc, to Unai Emery, Carlo Ancelotti, Thomas Tuchel and Guardiola, the only prize left to be won is the Champions League and it will be the perfect icing on the cake for a project that has attempted to refocus some attention on what’s happening in the Ligue 1.
The final berth won’t come for a penny. Not after the billions that have gone into the projects. It’s high time.
City have played in the Semifinals of the Champions League just once and they overcame PSG to get to that stage.
Both teams had also faced each other in the then UEFA Cup, with City, managed by Mark Hughes playing a goalless draw against PSG in what was their first meeting against French opposition. It is PSG’s third European semi-final winning one and losing one of the last two. PSG reached their first European Cup final last season, while City are chasing a much-desired first this term.
Football may settle the scores, but this goes beyond just football, a lot more is at stake. It’s difficult to call.
Man City Win