Manchester City looks to take an important step in its transformation into one of the world’s leading clubs tonight by reaching the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the first time.
To do so, England’s lone survivor in Europe needs a win or a 0-0 or 1-1 draw at home to Paris St Germain after holding the Ligue 1 champions 2-2 at the Stade de France last week.
For three successive seasons since first qualifying for Europe’s premier club competition, City was frustrated in its attempts to make significant progress.
They failed to come out of the group stage in 2012-13 and then lost in the last 16 in the following two years.
This time City won Group D ahead of Juventus before knocking out Dinamo Kiev 3-1 on aggregate.
Goals by Kevin de Bruyne and Fernandinho in Paris mean that Manuel Pellegrini’s men have an excellent chance of qualifying for the last four.
But PSG won 2-1 in England in the last round to knock out Chelsea and reach their fourth successive quarter-final – they need a similar result to go one step further this time.
Meanwhile, Coach Manuel Pellegrini has said that it will not settle for a goalless draw against Paris St Germain even though that result would send them into the Champions League semi-finals because it would go against the club’s philosophy.
“The most important aspect of this team is to score. Do we think we need to draw 0-0? That’s not the way we normally play. I don’t think one of the team is favourites,” Pellegrini told reporters yesterday.
“We went there to try and win the game and tomorrow we’ll do exactly the same. The important thing is to focus on getting to semi. After that you look at your opponent. We must play with the same trust.”
The clash comes too early for injured captain Vincent Kompany and winger Raheem Sterling, but midfielder David Silva, who missed Saturday’s Premier League win over West Bromwich Albion with an ankle problem, is in the squad.
Defender Eliaquim Mangala has come under scrutiny after a string of erratic performances but right back Bacary Sagna has backed his French compatriot to more than hold his own against PSG’s star-studded attack.
“Mangala has been strong in recent games so with or without Kompany we have a good team. The first leg is in the past. You can only look forward. We’re at home in front of our fans,” Sagna said.
“I’m sure we can deal with the pressure. To qualify would be amazing, I know PSG are going to come here to give us problems. I’m sure we can do it again.”