Paris Saint-Germain welcome Manchester City to the Parc des Princes on Wednesday for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinals matchup. Both teams come into the game with injuries and while PSG are the favorites to advance, City have more than enough firepower to pull an upset.
To help us preview the big game is Ric from Bluemoon MCFC:
What was your initial reaction when Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain were drawn together for the quarterfinals?
Bluemoon: My initial thought was relief that we hadn’t been paired with Barcelona for the third year running! Benfica or Wolfsburg would’ve been preferable ties, but at least it’s something we’ve not faced in the Champions League before so it’ll be a new experience.
PSG Talk: I definitely breathed a sigh of relief when it was revealed PSG would play Manchester City and not Barcelona or Bayern Munich. This is City’s first time in the quarterfinals and their current standing in the Premier League would lead you to believe that this is a down year for the club.
PSG and City were benefactors of huge foreign investments that transformed the perception of both clubs worldwide and it seems fitting that they have to play each other for a birth in the semifinals.
What player on the opposing team worries you the most?
Bluemoon: Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be a handful. We’re suspect defensively, particularly without Joe Hart and Vincent Kompany, so it will be a big ask for Nicolás Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala to keep Ibrahimovic quiet.
PSG Talk: I’m going with a striker as well. Sergio Agüero is an absolute beast and I have no idea how our back four, especially if David Luiz starts, will keep him off the scoresheet. Another player who has huge potential to do damage is Kevin De Bruyne. The Belgian just returned from injury and led the Blues in a 4-0 demolition of Bournemouth.
City is the last English team left in the Champions League. Why do you think Premier League teams are struggling in the competition recently?
Bluemoon: Football tends to be cyclical, and the major English teams simply aren’t that good at present. Not many of the world’s very top players play in the Premier League.
What’s your prediction for your team’s starting XI heading into the first leg?
Bluemoon: I think we’ll go with:
Cavallero; Sagna, Otamendi, Mangala, Clichy; Fernando, Fernandinho; Navas, Silva, De Bruyne; Agüero
PSG Talk: Laurent Blanc, if you’re listening, go with this lineup…
Trapp; Aurier, Marquinhos, Silva, Maxwell; Matuidi, Motta, Rabiot; Di Maria, Ibrahimovic, Lucas
Complete this sentence: In order for my team to win, BLANK has to happen.
Bluemoon: With the injuries and our recent form, it’ll take a perfect storm for City to conjure up a win I think. If we can come out of the first leg with an away goal, and only one behind, we’ve got a chance.
PSG Talk: Ibrahimovic and the Paris attack need to take the game over and score plenty of goals. PSG’s defense has allowed three goals in the last two Ligue 1 games so it’s crucial that the big Swede take advantage of City’s injuries and put the game out of reach as early as possible.
Which player on the opposing team do you hate the most?
Bluemoon: David Luiz is a bit of a dick.
PSG Talk: I have to go with Samir Nasri. He recently came out and said PSG wouldn’t dominate the Premier League because they have to play Stoke and Arsenal at the Emirates. He’s also from Marseille so…
Has Manuel Pelligrini lost the City locker room? How confident are you heading into the tie?
Bluemoon: It’s been a disappointing season for City, and Pellegrini’s flaws as a manager have been brutally exposed. Confidence is low going into the game, but at least we stopped the rot with a good performance against Bournemouth last weekend.
What is your prediction for the tie? Aggregate score, leading scorer, any surprises?
Bluemoon: I think we’ll lose 3-1 in Paris, and win 2-1 in Manchester, going out 4-3 on aggregate. Leading scorer will be a straight contest between Ibrahimovic and Agüero.
PSG Talk: I like your prediction for the first leg. It’s a bit ambitious but 3-1 to Paris would be a dream. I can see a draw at the Etihad. Let’s go with 1-1, so aggregate score of 4-2 with PSG advancing to the semifinals. Ibrahimovic will be the leading scorer and my surprise is that he will score a hat trick on Wednesday. He has two in his last three games so why not add a third?