History beckons for Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium tomorrow night. A goalless or one all score draw is all that will suffice for City to book an unprecedented Champions League semi-final place. The strange 2-2 draw in Paris last week proved to be a huge result considering many fans would’ve bitten your hand off had you offered them that result prior to the match.
First off Ross, what did you make of our match in Paris? There were loads of errors – from both sides – but is it fair to say Manchester City took everyone by surprise?
From the neutral’s perspective, the game last week was absolutely exhilarating. Very rarely you see such an open game in Europe and I was thoroughly impressed with City. Not many teams come to the Parc des Princes with intent to attack but Manuel Pellegrini’s men did just that. Had it not been for a calamitous error by Fernando to gift us the equaliser, things may have panned out differently. I would say we were in a spot of trouble after going a goal behind.
Was I surprised by City? Yes and no. Pellegrini never really sets his teams up to defend away from home, they look to attack and that is a really admirable trait. Laurent Blanc paid homage to you before and after the game in regards to your playing style. He was absolutely right in doing so.
What really surprised me is that when you leveled at 2-2, we seemed to fade away and City were in the ascendency. We were vey lethargic and no team has done that to us this season, even Real Madrid.
The #stats are firmly on our side tomorrow night. Do you think PSG capable of turning this around?
Absolutely. I have to believe that and I do. We are a match for anyone on our day but if we are to do this, it is going take a mammoth effort. We are chasing the tie; the two away goals are crucial. Essentially, we are going to have to try and win the game, which can cause problems at the back for us with your pace on the counter.
I said prior to the first-leg we needed to take something back to the Etihad. We are not in an ideal situation but we are capable of getting the result we need.
The form of suspended duo of Blaise Matuidi and David Luiz are hot topic in France at the moment. I like both players but is there an argument that City could face a stronger PSG side, especially if Marco Verratti is fit to play?
Little Marco has been plagued by injury this season. He has not played for nearly two months due to a problem with his groin that is more to do with the bone rather than a muscular injury. It has had the PSG medical team stumped for a while. With Blaise out in particular, Laurent Blanc may feel that he needs to take a risk. Luiz as you mentioned is also out and Javier Pastore has been struggling for fitness too. We are certainly depleted in that area of the pitch.
Losing Matuidi is massive. I have said it countless times on Twitter that I would rather lose anyone else but the Frenchman – he is that important. His legs in midfield, particularly in a game like this, are going to be greatly missed.
What would a defeat mean for Paris Saint Germain fans, the coach and the hierarchy? Would it taint what has been, so far, a remarkable season?
Domestically, we are on the cusp of something magical yet again (back to back quadruples). That would be unprecedented and something European football has never seen in the top-five leagues Equaling what we did last season let alone potentially bettering it was always going to be tough but Blanc and his players have done an incredible job. The renaissance of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his greatest ever season in a Parisian shirt has been momentous in itself. Him breaking Pauleta’s all time goalscoring record for the club was something we thought we’d never see before he arrived in 2012.
But, progress in Europe is the long-term goal for the hierarchy at the club. After three successive quarter-finals, they crave a place in that last-four. Getting there is easier said than done and having avoided Barcelona (having drew them twice out of the last three years at this stage), optimism was high to finally go one better.
We are chasing the tie now. It is not what we wanted but there is a belief at the club that was lacking before to go afar in the competition. It is up to them to prove it on Tuesday night at the Etihad.
One City player you’d take at PSG?
After his performance at the Parc des Princes last week, Kevin De Bruyne! What a player! He was incessantly linked with us last season and I can see what City paid the vast amount of money to Wolfsburg for his services. An absolute gem of a player and a pleasure to watch. I have no doubt he is going to be one of the stars of Euro 2016 too.
Line-up and score prediction?
I have to be bias of course. I will say a 1-2 win on the night for PSG but it will take a monumental effort from us to do so. If we do bow out, I wish Man City all the best for getting to the final in Milan. People can say what they want about this being some kind of ‘Qatari’ derby due to the money outlaid by both clubs but at the end of the day both PSG and City play some of the best football in Europe whey they are at it. That match alone last week, despite it being unorthodox, was as entertaining as you’ll see in the competition this season.
Predicted team: Sirigu (if Trapp doesn’t make it), Van der Wiel, Silva, Marquinhos, Maxwell, Verratti, Motta, Rabiot, Lucas, Di Maria, Ibra