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5 talking points as Man City host Paris St Germain in Champions League final bid

Manchester City v Southampton – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
(Image credit: Clive Brunskill)

Manchester City will hope to secure a place in the Champions League final on Tuesday as they host Paris St Germain in the second leg of their semi-final at the Etihad Stadium.

The Premier League leaders hold the advantage after a 2-1 win in the French capital last week.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the main talking points ahead of the game.

Mbappe fitness

PSG star Kylian Mbappe is a fitness doubt

PSG star Kylian Mbappe is a fitness doubt (Julien Poupert/PA)

PSG have suffered a huge injury scare ahead of the clash with key striker Kylian Mbappe missing his side’s win over Lens at the weekend with a calf problem. The France World Cup winner, who City prevented from registering a shot on goal in the first leg, is vital to his side’s hopes of getting back into this tie. Manager Mauricio Pochettino has said he is “optimistic” Mbappe will feature but there remains some doubt.

Other PSG hopes

Neymar (left) is likely to be the key man for PSG

Neymar (left) is likely to be the key man for PSG (Julien Poupert/PA)

The Mbappe uncertainty throws an even brighter spotlight on PSG’s other major world star, Neymar. The Brazilian was lively in the first leg but ultimately frustrated and there will be great pressure on him to deliver. It was for games like this that he was bought. He is unlikely to be able to pull this off alone, however. Senior figures such as Angel Di Maria, Alessandro Florenzi, Marco Verratti and Marquinhos will need to show their experience. In a further blow to PSG, Idrissa Gana Gueye is suspended after his sending off last week, robbing the midfield of some of its bite and drive.

City’s approach

City could field a similar line-up to the one which triumphed in Paris

City could field a similar line-up to the one which triumphed in Paris (Julien Poupert/PA)

Predicting how City will line up is always difficult, given the number of changes Pep Guardiola routinely makes and how some surprise selections have seen the manager accused of overthinking knockout games in the past. However, it does seem fairly safe to assume City will adopt a similar approach to the first leg. Guardiola’s European tactics have been fairly consistent of late, with the team playing a fluid system based around a number of interchanging ‘false nines’ rather than with an out-and-out centre forward. The side that started against PSG last week contained 10 of the team that began the quarter-final second leg at Borussia Dortmund and was exactly the same as the first leg against the Germans.

Tie too close to call

City are high in confidence after recent successes

City are high in confidence after recent successes (Adam Davy/PA)

Despite City’s aggregate lead and their two away goals, the tie remains in the balance. PSG are a strong attacking unit and will look to hit back hard. They have also been impressive on their travels, winning both their away legs in the last two rounds against powerhouse opposition in Barcelona and Bayern Munich. City also looked vulnerable when defending set-pieces last week and that is another area PSG could exploit. City are high in confidence after securing the Carabao Cup and moving to within three points of the title, as well as winning in Paris, in the past fortnight but PSG were also victorious, against Lens, at the weekend.

Battle of the managers

Guardiola (left) and Pochettino (right) will renew their rivalry

Guardiola (left) and Pochettino (right) will renew their rivalry (Martin Rickett/PA)

Both managers played it down last week, but the battle on the touchline between Guardiola and Pochettino is an interesting one. The pair have now met 19 times, dating back to their time as rivals at Barcelona and Espanyol over a decade ago. Guardiola has the advantage with 11 victories to three, with five draws, but Pochettino famously edged their last Champions League tie when Tottenham beat City two years ago.