Tomorrow night, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain go toe-to-toe for a place in the last-four of the Champions League. Following last week’s 2-2 draw, Les Parisiens are chasing the tie thanks to City’s two away goals.
1970 PSG and Typical City caught up again ahead of the final meeting. Myself and their Editor Alex Timperley partook in a back and forth Q&A session over the weekend and discussed other matters regarding both clubs instead of just on the tie itself.
Typical City: The first-leg was a strange one. Both teams looked so good at times and so bad at others. What was your take on it? Anything you think went particularly well?
1970 PSG: I think it was a pulsating contest. Something you don’t normally see in European football, two teams going hammer and tongs at each other. City impressed me in an attacking sense, particularly Kevin De Bruyne who got the goal.
From a Paris perspective, we started bright but as soon as you made it 2-2 we faded which was a big concern. Especially as we are now chasing the tie!
Adrien Rabiot proved that he belonged at this level with another accomplished display. For years it seemed as if his future lay as well but has done ever so well to compensate for the loss of Marco Verratti.
Having initially gone a goal down, I was pleased we were able to turn it around as we did. Just a pity from our point of view we couldn’t hold on.’
1970 PSG: City came into the tie as underdogs but are now in control of the tie thanks to the two away goals. How has the result gone down in Manchester? Do the Mancunians think you will now finish the job?
Typical City: The result has gone down really well over here. Most of us would probably have taken a 2-1 loss so that extra away goal is an extra surprise. If we score first at the Etihad your lot suddenly have what looks like a mammoth task ahead.
I think I’d agree that City are now favourites, but no one I know is taking anything for granted.
Adding to all that, the Champion’s League suddenly looks more open that might have been expected. Atletico are far from beaten in their tie with Barcelona and Wolfsburg should progress barring a Ronaldo/Bale inspired battering at the Bernabeu. All of a sudden, it’s not inconceivable that either City or PSG could make the final.
We have a winnable game against West Brom to navigate (which City did win 2-1) and then it’s all eyes on PSG…
Typical City: You mentioned the absence of Verratti being key – I’m now seeing rumours he might be available for the second leg. How true are these? And how much of a difference will he make in midfield? PSG had no real answer to Fernandinho last week so you need to change something…
1970 PSG: L’Equipe have reported that Laurent Blanc could take a massive risk in starting him. Little Marco was arguably our player of the season in 2014/15. Javier Pastore just shaded it for me but the Italian was considered by many of the Paris support as our star man. This season, ever since the defeat to Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, he has been plagued by injury. He has quite a niggly issue with his groin, which is not muscular related, but more in relation to the bone. It has certainly had PSG’s medical team stumped as they’ve tried to get him fit for some time.
Blaise Matuidi being out is a huge loss. He is our engine in midfield and we need his legs in these away games in Europe. Unfortunately with him being out, we are at a disadvantage. I have said many times, ‘anyone but Blaise’ to miss out in a big game like the once coming up this week. He is that important!
As a result, and as we are chasing the tie, we need to take a risk. But, it is a big one that could seriously backfire. Verratti is that good, if there is an inkling he can make it, Blanc may feel he will have to start him. Especially with Pastore struggling with fitness as well. And the fact that David Luiz who is also suspended – and could have played in that midfield – may also be a reason for starting the Italian.
No doubt with Euro 2016 coming up as well, Verratti is at risk of missing that if it all goes pear shaped at the Etihad.
1970 PSG: Kevin De Bruyne was absolutely immense in the first-leg. He was incessantly linked with us last season and judging by his display, the hierarchy at PSG must think they missed a trick. How big has his loss been to your title charge this season? And can he be the big difference in you making it into the semi-final of the UCL, and beyond?
Typical City: I am very glad that Matuidi is out of the return leg. He looked really good in Paris and it’s a weight off the mind knowing he won’t be on the pitch in Manchester. Also, to a lesser extent, Luiz. He’s not the best player in the world but there’s a belligerence to him, which can snatch a game away from the opposition. He is also canny and willing to bend the rules and take a risk to win.
It sounds like at worst we’ll be facing a not quite fit Verratti which is should be fine. Toure will be back and firing again so between him and Fernandinho I’m not too worried…
To answer you question, yes, Kevin De Bruyne has been vital for us this year. We knew he’d be good after he dominated the Bundesliga last year but I think it’s been surprising just how good he is. Our free fall away from the title started exactly as he got injured. Now that he’s back, City have won two league games on the bounce for the first time since October (it’s been a strange season).
You got a look at why he’s so hard to play against last week – he seems to have licence to just go wherever he wants. He pops up left, right and in the centre. As soon as he gets the ball he turns and runs at the goal without hesitation which, as a fan, is great to see.
If we make it to the semi finals, or even the final, it will be down to one of De Bruyne, Aguero or Toure. Given the fact that the latter two are arguably the two most influential players in City’s history, that should give you an indication of how much of an impact De Bruyne has had.