PSG vs Man City: Six things we learned from Champions League first leg

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Daily Mail 29 April, 2021 - 09:03am 20 views

What channel is PSG vs Man City?

As for watching PSG vs Man City in the USA, it'll be on CBS Sports Network and Univision. MARCA.comPSG vs Manchester City: Final score, goals and reactions

Has Pep won Champions League?

Guardiola has enjoyed huge success in his five years at Manchester City with an eighth trophy on the way once they wrap up the league. But this is the furthest he has taken City in Europe. "It is the second time in our history at this stage," the two-time Champions League winner as Barcelona boss said. bbc.comChampions League: Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola tells team not to be 'shy'

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Champions League: Manchester City make comeback against cursed PSG

CGTN 29 April, 2021 - 12:10pm

Players of Manchester City celebrate after scoring a goal in the UEFA Champions League Semifinals first-leg game against Paris Saint-Germain at Parc des Princes in Paris, France, April 28, 2021. /CFP

It's the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object – or, more precisely, whatever the opposite of that is. On one side you have Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), the team that always falls apart in the latter stages of the Champions League when things get tough and their opponents, Manchester City, whose manager Pep Guardiola has spent a decade contriving ways to get eliminated from the tournament.

They can't both be doomed to failure, so one must proceed and, at first, it looked as if that would definitely be PSG. Perhaps inspired by reaching the final last year and under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino, the mercenary side have really pulled things together this season and are functioning like a genuine team full of top talent.

From the opening whistle, they did everything they could to smother Manchester City. They were fine with Pep's side playing their possession game, the difference was that they worked to prevent their forward momentum and then repeatedly attempted to play long balls and lobs over their high back line.

City rarely find themselves in this position but showed their quality by being able to modify their style to something more physical. The midfield of their 4-3-3 system were more than willing to get the ball and run with it up the flanks.

The speed of PSG was too much to handle, however, and they regularly broke through to the City box. In the 15th minute they got a corner and, as pointed out by the commentators, there was some kind of signal from Angel di Maria to the rest of the players.

Marquinhos (C) of Paris Saint-Germain scores a header in the UEFA Champions League Semifinals first-leg game against Manchester City at Parc des Princes, April 28, 2021. /CFP

Whatever it was, it worked. He sent the ball into the area in front of goal with pace and Marquinhos ran the five or ten yards necessary to meet it literally head on. Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson had no chance, he was fixed to the spot.

Interestingly, when the game resumed at 1-0, City remained the same. They tried to move forward while PSG attempted to grab the ball and sprint away from them. In some ways it made sense that the first goal would be a set piece because City's back four of Juan Cancelo, Ruben Dias, John Stones and Kyle Walker closed down PSG every time, particularly when the midfield three tracked back to join them; as good as PSG's players are, simply sending Kylian Mbappe and Neymar up the pitch was far too simple for Pep.

Besides for one very brave attempt at a tap in from Bernardo Silva, City looked toothless in he first half, and it seemed as if the fates were siding with Les Parisiens – even when Leandro Paredes accidentally fouled Neymar toward the 40th minute, allowing City to make their one serious break.

It continued in the second half, with one important change. City were now playing much higher up the pitch. It seemed like only the central defenders of Dias and Stones stayed behind the halfway line. It was dangerous but paid off immediately; with so many players in the opposing half, PSG didn't have the time or space to dash outward.

Goalkeeper Keylor Navas (R) of Paris Saint-Germain lies on the ground after allowing a goal by Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League Semifinals first-leg game at Parc des Princes, April 28, 2021. /CFP

Any time a PSG player got near the ball, they were overrun and City could make an attack. PSG were still lethal on the counter but City made sure that barely happened. They maintained pressure until the 63rd minute when the real curse revealed itself.

Kevin de Bruyne launched a ball in from outside the box with the aim of hitting Stones who was running to the far post. It was overshot, but had so much spin on it that when it landed, it spun into the goal, making the game 1-1. De Bruyne didn't intend it and nobody, especially PSG keeper Kaylor Navas, expected it.

Even though the game was level, you wouldn't know from the body language. PSG looked shaky. Not even 10 minutes later, Foden was fouled by Paredes – a major sign of PSG's mental collapse was his yellow card which came from a pointless flame out, kicking the ball away – setting up a free kick from closer range than where De Bruyne scored.

He and Riyad Mahrez spent what felt like forever discussing who would take the kick. De Bruyne took a few steps back – and Mahrez ran up to blast it. It went right through the wall and into the back of the net; Navas didn't see it until far too late.

The PSG collapse was well underway. Neymar got a yellow for a bratty foul on Dias in the 74th and Idrissa Gueye was sent off with a straight red after he essentially dropkicked the calf of Ilkay Gundogan.

It ended 2-1 to Manchester City meaning PSG will need to score three in the City of Manchester Stadium next week. It's a manageable margin, it's the manner that's the problem: if they bottled it so badly to an equalizer, what chance do PSG have when they need goals?

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Copyright © 2020 CGTN. Beijing ICP prepared NO.16065310-3

Copyright © 2020 CGTN. Beijing ICP prepared NO.16065310-3

Man City prove you don't have to be 'fun' to be good in PSG victory

90min 29 April, 2021 - 08:00am

Was it one of the best performances an English side has ever offered up in Europe? Or was it another shocking showing on the biggest stage from Pep Guardiola? Regardless of which side of the fence you sat, the internet was coming for you...as per.

Truthfully, this was not even close to one of City's most exciting performances, but why does that mean it wasn't impressive?

When they came out for the second half, City were not as gung-ho. Not every possession needed to end up as a goal. Instead, it was all about controlling the game and waiting for the perfect moment to find their opportunity at goal. A different kind of class.

Everyone in City blue sacrificed some physical effort in favour of mental awareness, keeping the ball with outstanding ease and ensuring Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Angel Di Maria - perhaps the best trio on the planet these days - disappeared.

Adding an extra layer of maturity and patience, City chose to slow things down and focus on possession. Instead of taking risks, they would control the ball and wait for an opening.

PSG have been accused of losing their heads in the second half, with some saying that's why City got back into the game.

Yeah, they did blow it, but only because City made them.

City frustrated them from minute 45 to minute 90, keeping the ball away from their in-form opponents. They were the bigger boys on the playground not letting anyone else play with their ball, and after so long of watching on from the sidelines, PSG snapped.

Keylor Navas fluffed a cross for City's opener and then conceded an abysmal free-kick from Riyad Mahrez which made its way through the PSG wall like the players were paper. As the clock ticked on, Idrissa Gueye was shown a straight red for a naughty tackle on Ilkay Gundogan.

PSG lost all composure, but that only came about because of City's excellence after the break.

Guardiola won't care. He may have had to betray his core beliefs, but he's now got one foot in the Champions League final as a result. Not a bad trade.

City emerges from hole to close in on Champions League final

USA TODAY 29 April, 2021 - 05:31am

Neymar was delving deep into his box of tricks, the marauding Kylian Mbappe had that glint in his eye and Manchester...

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Neymar was delving deep into his box of tricks, the marauding Kylian Mbappe had that glint in his eye, and Manchester City’s players had been struck by a rare case of timidity.

Thirty minutes into the Champions League semifinal and the scenario Pep Guardiola had feared before the match was unfolding right before his eyes against Paris Saint-Germain at Parc des Princes.

“Everyone was playing safe, not having the personality to go and play,” Guardiola said. “That is why we were so shy.”

Indeed, with City trailing 1-0 and on the ropes early in the first leg, the one instruction Guardiola had particularly wanted to get through to his players — “Be ourselves” — was being ignored.

The fullbacks, so key to City’s fluid system, were sitting back, unusually. The passes in midfield were safe. There was little ambition in an attack again featuring no recognized striker.

That City managed to turn the situation around on the biggest European night of most of its players’ careers was why Guardiola looked so proud after his team’s 2-1 win on Wednesday.

A Champions League final has never been so close for the blue half of Manchester, having looked so far away at one stage.

Ahead of Tuesday’s second leg at Etihad Stadium, Guardiola again doesn’t want his players to lose sight of one overarching principle.

“It‘s simple,” he said. “If we play shy and not who we are, everything can happen and PSG have the quality to turn it on.

“But if we play the way we played the second half, who we are, maybe we will have the chance to reach the final.”

Despite its dominant second-half display, when the team played with more courage and purpose and the fullbacks finally got themselves in attacking positions, City still relied on two pieces of fortune for the goals. Kevin De Bruyne's cross evaded everyone and found the corner of the net, while Riyad Mahrez surely could not have purposely picked a small hole in PSG’s defensive wall for his winning goal from a free kick.

A third goal for City after PSG midfielder Idrissa Gueye was sent off for a foul on Ilkay Gundogan would have left the French team with perhaps too big a mountain to climb. As it is, City will have to be wary of an opponent that scored four goals at Barcelona’s Camp Nou and three at Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena previously in the knockout stage.

“We know there are going to be moments where we suffer,” De Bruyne said. “The quality at this stage, we know how good they are. You have to run hard for the team. (But) we also have quality.”

Other factors give City a bigger edge in light of the six-day turnaround to the second leg, too. While Guardiola can afford to play a virtual reserve team against Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday, with the title close to being wrapped up, PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino is likely to field a strong lineup against Lens on the same day because the French league’s title race is so finely poised.

PSG is in second place, a point behind Lille and a point ahead of Monaco, with four games left and has already lost to Lens this season. City, on the contrary, holds a 10-point lead over Manchester United.

Then there’s the backbone City has developed under Guardiola, especially now that the defense is more solid following the early season arrival of center back Ruben Dias. The team fell behind to Borussia Dortmund, Aston Villa and now PSG in the last two weeks, and went on to win each time.

City has lost this month to Leeds in the league and Chelsea in the FA Cup semifinals, but Guardiola rotated heavily for both games and the team’s rhythm was affected. A fresh and full-strength City lineup is another proposition entirely.

Still, City's players are not getting ahead of themselves. The celebrations were reserved at the final whistle and Guardiola said there was “no cheering” in the locker room, with the job only half-done and that threat of Neymar and Mbappe so clear.

“Just calm,” Guardiola said, “because we know anything can happen in the second leg.”

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