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Why PSG will beat Manchester City and make history

French Champions PSG have a chance to make history when they renew the battle against Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday night. And here’s why we believe they will.

Why PSG will beat Manchester City and make history
Photo: AFP

They simply have to win and that matters, right?

Given that PSG pretty much won the French league before it even started, their whole season depends on tonight’s quarter-final second leg match against Manchester City.

In fact, much of next season will depend on tonight’s match, because if they lose, their next meaningful fixture arguably won’t be until the next knock-out phases of the Champions League next February, since they get through the groups with ease these days and will almost certainly walk the league again.

The Qatari-financed PSG project is all about winning the Champions League. While PSG might not win it this year, they at least have to improve on their last three seasons which means earning a place in the semi-finals for the first time in their history.

The deflation on missing out would hang over the club for a long time, and it would rub salt into their wounds to see a fellow nouveau riche club financed by Middle East oil wealth progress at their expense.

So in short, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and co simply have to win. This will drive them on.

They can’t play any worse than last week

Last week’s home leg against Manchester City promised so much for the French club, who came out of the blocks all guns blazing. But then Ibrahimovic missed a penalty, then another easy chance, and their supporters began to get the feeling that it wasn’t going to go as they had imagined. And it didn’t.

But the good news is PSG simply cannot play as badly as that again, especially their second half performance.

The sloppy passes, miscontrolled balls and defensive errors seen in the first leg will be expunged from PSG’s play tonight, because the complacency that probably caused them will not be there.

PSG began last week’s tie as favourites after their impressive win over Chelsea and their dominance of the French league.

But given that Manchester City plundered two away goals in Paris last week, PSG will begin Tuesday night’s tie as underdogs, which should suit them.

They will be back on top of their game.

Their pain will pay off

PSG have gone out at the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the last three seasons, twice to Barcelona and once to Chelsea.

But that wealth of painful experience has got to pay dividends at some point. The fear of missing out again, at the expense of a club that is hardly a giant in European football, will drive PSG on.

Manchester City are at a stage of the competition they have no experience of, which is why tonight the French club will manage the occasion far better than their rivals.

All expectations will be on Manchester City, but the English club doesn’t have the experience yet to handle them.

PSG must score and they have the players to do it

PSG have to score at least once tonight and it’s likely given Manchester City’s own fire power that they may have to score twice.

But the key point is that they have the players to do it.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t have two bad games on the run, surely. He has already been quoted as saying he wants to hurt Manchester City – and he probably will at some point.

Then there’s Angel Di Maria, Edinson Cavani and Lucas and the likes of Thiago Silva and Thiago Motta are dangerous from corners.

And Manchester City are without their key defender Vincent Kompany.

So all in all, it should be a good night for the Parisians. Famous last words?

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FOOTBALL

OPINION: Mbappé’s title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project

After being the star of France's 2018 World Cup triumph, Kylian Mbappé has been the standout player for Paris Saint-Germain in a Ligue 1 title-winning campaign that has been slightly marred by the manner in which they limped over the line.

OPINION: Mbappé's title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project
Photos AFP

PSG finally wrapped up the title on Sunday after second-placed Lille failed to beat Toulouse, having not won any of their previous three games when the opportunity to confirm a sixth French crown in seven seasons was there.

The Qatari-owned club can still make it a domestic double, with the French Cup final to come against Rennes next weekend, yet this will not be remembered as a vintage year.

While Neymar once again went missing due to injury at the crucial point, Edinson Cavani has struggled with fitness too, and coach Thomas Tuchel has regularly lashed out at the lack of depth in his squad.

The 5-1 capitulation at Lille a week ago was the worst league result for PSG since Qatar Sports Investments bought the club in 2011, and the first time they had let in five in a league game since 2000.

A record-breaking 14-match winning run with which they started the season now seems like a long time ago, the latest Champions League failure clouding Tuchel's first campaign in charge.

Mbappé, at least, has been a constant, revelling in his status as a World Cup winner and hardly ever being rested. He only turned 20 in December, but has now won three Ligue 1 titles in a row.

Mbappé has 36 goals in 40 games this season, with 30 in the league. And, frighteningly, his team-mate Daniel Alves told RMC recently that “he doesn't realise how good he is, he can go much further”.

He is also not used to losing, and may have upset some of his teammates with his assessment of last week's defeat at Lille. “We played like beginners,” he said.

Hollow ring

To be fair, they have usually been exceptional domestically. However, the problem is that as long as they keep failing in the Champions League, domestic success for a club backed by a Gulf state will continue to ring hollow.

The title has effectively been in the bag for some time, but their season has been winding down ever since their exit against Manchester United in the last 16.

That, combined with being knocked out in the League Cup quarter-finals, means Tuchel in his first season has actually done worse than Unai Emery, his unloved predecessor.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has actually done worse than his predecessor, Unai Emery
However, according to sports daily L'Equipe, Tuchel has agreed to extend his contract to 2021. Thoughts have already turned to the future, with new signings needed at the Parc des Princes.

The costly Neymar experiment cannot be said to have succeeded until he stays fit for the games that matter, and there will always be speculation about his future.

“We have a contract, we're not even halfway through that contract,” Neymar's father pointed out to RMC Sport.

Time for a clear-out? 

Mbappé is the one man they really cannot afford to lose, but is it time for a clear-out elsewhere?

Some of the excitement of the early part of the decade has gone, replaced with a staleness. The days of Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani and Marco Verratti are maybe ending.

Youri Djorkaeff, a World Cup winner for France and a PSG star in the 1990s, offers a frank assessment, suggesting real change is needed higher up.

“If you're not great in every compartment, from the bus driver to the girls who clean the shirts, you will go nowhere,” he told Ligue 1 Podcast, 'Le Beau Jeu'.

“Paris Saint-Germain, after many years without success, have to rebuild everything, restart from scratch, because the foundations are not good. You cannot expect to one day win the Champions League without these foundations.”

The Qatar project needs a breath of fresh air, and all eyes will be on president Nasser al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique.

UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules remain a problem, though, with PSG said to have a hole of around 100 million euros and the need to present a balanced budget by the end of June. The next few months will be interesting.

By Andy Scott/AFP

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