2020-21 Champions League preview: Man City vs PSG

The 2021 Champions League rolls on with the first leg of the tie between two clubs looking for their first ever UCL trophy. Paris Saint-Germain, who lost in the Champions League Final 1-0 to Bayern Munich last year, will look to make it to their second-consecutive final as they attempt to capture that elusive title. They will face Manchester City, who is in their second UCL semifinals ever (2016) and looking for their first ever Champions League Final berth.

Man City have been their usual dominant selves in the Premier League, leading the table by 10 points with five matches left in the season. Their goal differential of +45 is the third-highest mark across the top-five European leagues as Man City leads the Premier League in both goals scored and fewest goals conceded.

They are the only club that haven’t lost a match in this year’s Champions League campaign, defeating Monchengladbach 4-0 and Borussia Dortmund 4-2 to advance to the semifinals.

Across all competitions, Man City have five players that have scored double-digit goals, including midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who has 16 goals this season. Youngster Phil Foden is enjoying a breakout season with 14 goals and nine assists across all competitions.

Defensively, Man City has struggled in recent years, which has been the biggest factor in Man City’s recent failures in the Champions League quarterfinals, including 2019 where they allowed four goals against Tottenham and lost 4-4 on aggregate with the Spurs having the away goal advantage.

This season, that has not been an issue as goalkeeper Ederson and centreback Ruben Dias have locked down the backline. Ederson has 17 clean sheets on the season in the Premier League and Dias has 14.

If Man City wants to make it to their first ever Champions League Final, they need to get past Kylian Mbappe, who broke out in 2017 against Man City in the 2017 UCL round of 16, where he scored two goals and led AS Monaco (6-6 on aggregate with the away goal advantage) to victory in Pep Guardiola’s first season at Manchester.

Mbappe finds himself at PSG this season and is trying to lead Paris back to the Champions League Final for the second season in a row (lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich last season). He has dazzled in this knockout round journey with a hat-trick at Barcelona and a brace at Munich. With his incredible goal-scoring ability, PSG knocked out Barcelona and got their revenge on Bayern Munich, winning 3-3 with the away goal advantage.

Like Chelsea, PSG got to the semifinals with a new manager, ironically after sacking Chelsea’s current manager, Thomas Tuchel, and replacing him with former Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino back in early January. Pochettino has reinvigorated a lethal PSG attack with Mbappe and the often-injured Neymar, who is now healthy for a chance to win the club’s first Champions League title.

Former Real Madrid goalkeeper, Keylor Navas, has 16 clean sheets across all competitions, and in leg 1 against Bayern Munich, he recorded 10 saves in a wild 3-2 win for PSG in the snow.

This is a blockbuster series that will go down to the wire. Two of Europe’s best attacks square off for a berth in the Champions League Final. There is little separating the two clubs as both play a fast-paced and attack-first style of football.

In a tightly-contested showdown, the winner will be PSG. Mbappe has asserted himself as the new best player in the world and with Neymar healthy, the duo will be too much for Man City. Navas will make a couple clutch saves to secure PSG’s spot in the Champions League Final.

Prediction on aggregate: PSG 4 Man City 3

Published by Sean Clark

I am an aspiring sports journalist at Northern Arizona University. I am very passionate about sports such as football, soccer and basketball and I'm excited to use this platform to write about the sports I love.

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