Champions League Preview and Pick: PSG vs. Manchester City Semifinals Leg 2
Breakdown and Best Bet for PSG-Manchester City
There is still everything to play for between Manchester City and PSG in Tuesday’s second leg of the Champions League semifinals. In the first leg, PSG took a 1-0 lead, only to see Manchester City strike back with two goals for a 2-1 road win. That gives City a considerable advantage ahead of the second leg, helping to make them -142 favorites at home. Meanwhile, PSG has a moneyline of +375 while a draw is listed at +329.
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Manchester City Preview
It’s hard to say that Manchester City has been at its best in recent games despite the fact that Pep Guardiola’s team is running away with the Premier League title. The Citizens needed a late goal on a set piece in the Carabao Cup Final and were second best in the first half last week against PSG. However, Guardiola woke up his team at halftime and City played like a championship squad in the second half, scoring twice and threatening more. City also had a comfortable win over Crystal Palace on Saturday with Guardiola heavily rotating his squad.
There’s no doubt that Man City will be fresh for Tuesday’s game against PSG. But they are still not finishing as many chances as one might expect given how the Citizens dominate time of possession. They have a modest seven goals in their last five games across all competitions and haven’t scored more than two goals in a game since mid-March. Nevertheless, the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, and others can all create havoc.
Meanwhile, Guardiola will have to pay close attention to how his team sets up defensively against PSG. They know that the onus will be on PSG to score at least two goals, which could mean the French side attacks them in a manner that City isn’t accustomed to seeing. PSG scored its goal in the first leg on a set-piece and is also one of the most dangerous teams on the counter-attack in Europe, so City will be asked plenty of questions defensively in this game.
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Unlike Manchester City, PSG is still fighting on multiple fronts. The Parisians scored a huge win over Lens on Saturday but still trail Lille by a point in the Ligue 1 standings. Being in that title race could create a distraction for Mauricio Pochettino’s squad, even ahead of a Champions League semifinal. On the bright side, Pochettino was able to rest a few of his regulars against Lens, perhaps keeping his squad fresh heading into its third game in seven days.
Of course, there is lingering uncertainty about Kylian Mbappe, who is battling a calf injury and wasn’t available against Lens over the weekend. More importantly, Mbappe was far from his best in the first leg and could be hampered by the injury even if he’s able to play on Tuesday. The good news for PSG is that Angel Di Maria played a great game against Man City last week while Neymar presents a constant threat for the Man City back-line.
At the same time, PSG must be solid defensively against Man City. Marquinhos returned from injury last week to solidify the center-back pairing with Presnel Kimpembe. But that tandem struggled with the quickness of City’s attacking players last week, particularly in the second half. Defensive midfielder Idrissa Gueye receiving a red card in the first leg will also force Pochettino to shuffle his lineup, which could then put more pressure on the PSG center-backs, especially on the counter-attack.
PSG looked good during the first half of last week’s meeting with Man City, only to disappear completely in the second half, struggling to have any meaningful possession in their attacking half. The Parisians will have to force the issue in the second leg, although they could make them vulnerable on the counter-attack against Manchester City. The injury to Mbappe isn’t going to help matters. Meanwhile, Man City will be 100% focused on reaching the Champions League final and will pick up where they left off in the second half of the first leg.
Pick: Manchester City 3-1