The Etihad is primed for a heavyweight showdown on Wednesday night as last season’s Champions League runners-up Manchester City welcome a Paris Saint-Germain side loaded with superstars to the north west of England.
It is the penultimate game of Group A for both City and the Parisians, and as it stands, the two clubs predictably occupy first and second respectively. With just one point the difference between these sides, this is a proverbial six-pointer heading into the final matchweek in a fortnight.
Man City v PSG odds from William Hill
- Result: Man City (6/10) | Draw (16/5) | PSG (9/2)
- Enhanced odds: Gabriel Jesus to score first (top price guaranteed) @ 6/1 – was 5/1
- Enhanced odds: Lionel Messi to score first (top price guaranteed) @ 7/1 – was 6/1
- Enhanced odds: Phil Foden to have over 1 shot on target @ 9/4 – was 7/4
- Enhanced odds: Man City to win both halves @ 4/1 – was 16/5
- Enhanced odds: PSG to score in both halves @ 9/2 – was 19/5
- Enhanced odds: Kylian Mbappe & Neymar each to have over 1 shot on target @ 6/1 – was 9/2
18+ only. Be Gamble Aware. All odds in this article are correct at 09:15, 23/11/2021.
World-class quality populates this contest. When the team-sheets are finalised an hour before kick-off, it will read like a who’s who of Ballon d’Or candidates. The reverse fixture at the Parc des Princes finished 2-0, but how will this contest play out? We’ve put together five predictions.
1. Man City predicted XI
Kevin De Bruyne and Ferran Torres are confirmed absentees for City, while Jack Grealish is expected to make a return after he missed the 3-0 win over Everton on Sunday with a knock. Ruben Dias was kept on ice against the Toffees, so will likely come back in for John Stones, while Riyad Mahrez should replace Cole Palmer, moving Raheem Sterling back through the middle.
2. PSG predicted XI
Neymar picked up an adductor injury during the international duty with Brazil, but he featured in the 3-1 win over Nantes and so should retain his place against City. Gianluigi Donnarumma, meanwhile, has been out with illness and may not be risked here. Julian Draxler and Rafinha are also unavailable.
3. Messi to haunt Guardiola (again)
The Messi-Guardiola narrative has been exhausted at this point, but it takes on a particular intrigue for this fixture given the former’s struggles in Ligue 1. Incredibly, it took Messi six matches in France before he scored his first PSG goal, getting off the mark against Nantes at the weekend. Uncharted territory for football’s gold standard net-buster over the past 15 years or so.
However, when it comes to facing a former teacher in Guardiola, Messi tends to do the business. He registered his first Parisian strike against Guardiola’s City in this fixture at the Parc des Princes which, incredibly, was his seventh goal in seven Champions League appearances versus the club. That tally is the second-most by a single player against an English club in the competition. The most? Messi’s total of nine goals in six appearances against Arsenal.
To add insult to injury to City’s Catalan coach, Messi has also struck seven times against sides managed by Guardiola, accumulating that haul in just five games. He netted a brace as Barca beat Bayern Munich 3-0 in the 2014/15 semi-final first leg, a hat-trick as Barca thrashed City 4-0 in the 2016/17 groups, once more in the other group fixture that season and, of course, back in September for PSG.
4. Grealish to fill KDB’s shoes
Grealish was touch-and-go to face Everton on Sunday, so should feature here. In what capacity, though, remains to be seen. But, given the absence of De Bruyne, Guardiola will need the kind of creative virtuosity that Grealish can bring to the table in order to remedy the Belgian’s void.
Grealish, if deemed fit, will take to the turf on Wednesday, and as Britain’s most expensive footballer, he will be desperate to join the conversation that features PSG’s terrifying trident: Messi, Neymar, Mbappe. If he is to enter that discussion, he will need to produce the goods in these career-defining matchups.
As it stands, Grealish has fared well for City in the Champions League. He has created more chances than any other City player (11), while eight of those were created following a ball carry (moving five or more metres with the ball) which, as it stands, is the most of any player in Europe’s flagship tournament this term.
However, in the reverse fixture against PSG, Grealish largely went under the radar, eventually coming off in the 68th minute for Phil Foden, who immediately injected a creative flourish. Whether overawed by the occasion or not, Grealish will need to make his mark in this kind of fixtures to ignite his City career and truly be uttered in the same breath as the game’s elite members.
5. Scoreline prediction: Man City 1-1 PSG
As much as City will want revenge for the 2-0 reversal suffered in the City of Light, Guardiola can be a pragmatist when the occasion dictates, and given the club’s current standing as group-toppers, he will be more concerned with protecting that lead rather than going gung-ho for a memorable triumph against Messi and Co.
Guardiola’s insatiable drive for perfection will ensure his side are well-prepared for PSG’s cyclical waves of pressure, their devastation when piling forward, their rough-and-tumble exploits in the middle of the park, epitomised by Marco Verratti’s marriage of tenacity and dark arts.
Mauricio Pochettino will want a statement performance to leapfrog Group A’s current pace-setters, but the difference now is that City would be happy with a draw. They hogged possession in Paris and can take the sting out of the game if the scoreline is in their favour which, from minute one, it will be.