Man City turn Champions League dreams into reality

Credit: BT Sports

Manchester City couldn’t look more comfortable in their 2-0 win at the Etihad last night over last years Champions League finalists Paris Saint-Germain. The 2-0 win on the night meant that City would progress 4-1 on aggregate. Plaudits for the night go to City’s defence after a stellar display. Pep Guardiola is likely to be very pleased with his team as they showed great resilience against a star studded PSG side.

Absent Mbappe

The Parisians most definitely missed the presence of their star striker in this game. The French side failed to register a single shot on target in the second leg. This comes after Mbappe was injured in a league game at the weekend. Pochettino lined up Argentine striker Mauro Icardi instead. However, Icardi was unable to make the same impact as the young Frenchman. Because of the lack of pace shown by Icardi, there was a clear lack of runs in behind the City defence. This made containing the Parisians relatively easy as they were playing everything in front of the City back four.

Neymar did his best to create opportunities for the Parisians. The Brazilian star looked like the most threatening player on the PSG side. However, he was unable to make enough of an impact on the game. Aside from Neymar the rest of the PSG attack seemed rather toothless. Angel Di Maria lacked impact on the right wing and his frustration was very apparent with his eventual dismissal due to violent conduct. It was also apparent, that the Parisians were missing the presence of tireless midfielder Idrissa Gueye. Having been dismissed for a dangerous challenge in the first leg, Gueye was suspended for this fixture.

Guardiola’s Champions League Legacy

It has been a long time since a Pep Guardiola side last won the Champions League. Through the Spanish manager’s time at Bayern Munich and Manchester City, he has been unable to win Europe’s most coveted prize. The Champions League is like the Holy Grail of football. And Guardiola has been chasing it since 2011. Speaking after the game Guardiola said:

“It is for all of us and the club. I’m incredibly proud and my first thoughts are with the players who didn’t play today. They all deserved to play, everyone has made a contribution and now it is time to enjoy it. We have to win the league and we have two or three weeks to prepare for the final.”

– Pep Guardiola in his post-match interview
– Pep Guardiola’s full post-match interview

Some notable performers for Manchester CIty were Phil Foden, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Ruben Dias, and Riyad Mahrez. Phil Foden’s display of maturity, composure, and skill, made this a night to remember for the 20 year old from Stockport. As a result of his stellar performance last night, pundits after the game were assured that he should start in the England team for the Euros. Zinchenko also had a great performance last night. The Ukrainian left-back was rock solid on the defensive end of the pitch, and it was his run in behind PSG that set up the first City goal. Sharing in Zinchenko’s defensive success was Ruben Dias. Dias put in an amazing performance, leading the City back line. The Portuguese centre-back had 4 clearances and 3 blocked shots in the game. This resulted in PSG registering ZERO shots on target in the entire match.

Last but not least we have the scorer of both city goals. Riyad Mahrez caused big problems for PSG on the right wing. The winger popped up in the box at the right time in order to slot home two goals.

Can they go the whole way?

City are sure to be watching the second leg between Chelsea and Real Madrid this evening. The winner of that fixture will be City’s opponent in the Champions League final. City would be the favourites to win the competition regardless of who comes out of the other semi-final. There has never been a better opportunity for Guardiola’s side to secure the first Champions League trophy in the history of the club. City have however, already lost to Chelsea recently in the semi-final of the FA cup. Despite that fact, they may still consider themselves the stronger side.

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