City travels to PSG in soccer's newly rich showdown
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 05, 2016 08:23 PM
Kiev's Oleh Husev, left slides into tackle Manchester City's Jesus Navas, who is watched by Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini, right, during the Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match between Manchester City and Dynamo Kiev at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England, Tuesday, March. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
SAMUEL PETREQUIN, AP Sports Writer
PARIS (AP) — With his team in danger of missing out on a top-four finish in the Premier League, Manuel Pellegrini's best chance of leaving an indelible mark at Manchester City is to win the Champions League.
City's domestic campaign has been badly damaged over the past two months by three home losses that left Pellegrini's team only one point above city rival Manchester United. Those defeats followed City's announcement that Pep Guardiola would replace the Chilean manager at the end of the season.
Pellegrini took the blow, but he soldiered on, leading City to its maiden Champions League quarterfinals. City now travels to Paris Saint-Germain in a matchup between newly rich clubs that are looking to finally break through in Europe's top competition.
"We're full of hope and full of desire and we can't wait for the games to come around," Manchester City winger Jesus Navas said. "It's really nice to be part of this experience and part of this team that has achieved it. It's all about going step by step, and with a good performance in this round, who knows where we can get to."
City showed greater maturity on the European front this season and prepared for the trip to the Parc des Princes with a 4-0 win over Bournemouth. But it travels to the French capital missing its experienced backbone, with Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure set to be out.
"We've had so many injured this season," Pellegrini said. "One of the merits of this squad having so many injuries this season, is that this is the last English team in the Champions League."
Like City, PSG is also desperate to win the Champions League, the main goal set by its wealthy Qatari owners. But since they took over in 2011, Laurent Blanc's team has failed to advance past the quarterfinals, having lost to Barcelona twice and Chelsea in 2014.
Here are some things to know about Wednesday's match:
PSG's form this season has been impressive, but it left Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri unimpressed.
Reflecting on PSG's dominance in French league, Nasri said the already crowned champions would be facing a far bigger challenge if they played in the Premier League.
"It's true they have a big team, but I do not think they are above the others in England," Nasri told L'Equipe newspaper.
PSG sealed a fourth straight league title with a record eight games left and currently holds a 25-point lead over second-place Monaco.
"There are no easy games in England, not one," Nasri said. "I'd like to see Paris play a Monday night at Stoke, West Ham or at the Emirates against Arsenal. Today, the big four is no more. There are six or seven teams who can be champions. It's harder."
IBRAHIMOVIC ON FIRE
PSG will be without midfielder Marco Verrati, but it can count on the in-form Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
With his contract expiring at the end of the season and his professional future still unclear, the Sweden international looks as motivated as ever.
Ibrahimovic scored a hat trick on Saturday that helped him join Pedro Pauleta as the club's all-time best scorer at the Parc des Princes. He took his league tally for the season to 30 and has now scored 144 goals in 170 matches with PSG.
"The team is doing magical things this season and I'm just following them," Ibrahimovic said. "They play well, so I play well."
Pellegrini might be able to start his No. 1 goalkeeper after Joe Hart trained with his teammates on Tuesday.
The England international has been out since picking up a calf injury against Manchester United on March 20. Midfielder Fabian Delph, sidelined with an Achilles injury since early February, also took part to the training session.
If Hart can't recover in time, Angus Gunn will be on the bench as a cover for Willy Caballero because third-choice keeper Richard Wright has not been registered with the Champions League squad.
The 20-year-old Gunn is the son of former Scotland goalkeeper Bryan Gunn.