Manchester City host Paris St Germain at the Etihad Stadium in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, with the aggregate score 2-2 after a thrilling draw in France last week.
Here we look at some talking points ahead of the game.
1. Can City complete the job?
City may not have been at their most convincing in Paris, but the result has given them a good chance of going through. The away goals give them a slight edge and they can also take a lot of confidence from their spirit and endeavour at the Parc des Princes. There were times when they had PSG on the back foot and that is highly encouraging. Yes, their performance was undermined to a degree by some careless errors, but PSG were profligate and suffered a few lapses of concentration themselves. The odds seemed against City a week ago, but now the tie is anyone’s.
2. Injuries and suspensions
City’s back line – not to mention their confidence – would have been enhanced considerably if captain Vincent Kompany had proved his fitness but that was not to be. The Belgian will not be risked. At least Nicolas Otamendi has overcome a twisted ankle to continue in defence. Sergio Aguero’s foot injury has not proved serious, while David Silva returns after resting a troublesome ankle injury. Yaya Toure’s weekend substitute appearance also puts him back in the frame. PSG are without David Luiz and Blaise Mutuidi through suspension and Javier Pastore is still injured, but Marco Verratti could return.
3. Importance of victory for City and Pellegrini
Reaching the semi-finals for the first time would be another landmark achievement for City in their push for status among the elite. The club want to be competing at that level on a regular basis and the quicker they get there the sooner they will be recognised as one of the continent’s top clubs. But while long-term ambition will ensure the club have more chances in the case of defeat, this is the last opportunity for Pellegrini with City. The Chilean will leave at the end of the season having made a positive impression, but there is still a sense he has under-achieved. Reaching the last four, as he did with Villarreal, could change perceptions.
4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The formidable Sweden striker is the main obstacle in City’s path to the semi-finals. The 34-year-old’s statistics this season are impressive – and he showed last week how dangerous he remains even on an off-night. Ibrahimovic’s performance in the first leg was a mixed one as he missed a penalty and blazed another good chance over, but he still grabbed a goal and hit the crossbar.
City will hope to be roared on by a capacity crowd, but the fact tickets have proved a hard sell emphasises the lack of affinity their supporters still have with the competition. The reasons for this are numerous but fans have a strong dislike of Uefa – as regularly demonstrated by their booing of the Champions League anthem – and in this instance ticket prices have been prohibitive. To continue their growth City need the fans onside in this competition and that will only happen with consistent success.