Paris Saint-Germain vs. Manchester City Champions League Preview, Odds & Analysis: Expect Guardiola’s Cityzens to Dominate Possession (Wednesday, April 28)
Rui Vieira/Associated Press. Pictured: Manager Pep Guardiola of Manchester City.
PSG vs. Manchester City Odds
|Manchester City Odds||+110|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-140 / +112)|
|Time||Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||Paramount+|
|Odds as of Tuesday afternoon via PointsBet.|
One of the richest matchups in world soccer can be found in the second Champions League semifinal. Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City face off Wednesday, with both clubs looking for their first ever European cup.
There will be no shortage of attacking talent on display in this game, although how each team uses it is a bit different.
Let’s break down what to expect in this match taking place in Paris.
In big games under manager Mauricio Pochettino, PSG defends in a 4-4-1-1 formation. The idea is that the two central players on defense and in the midfield will win the ball, pick their heads up and look to do one of two things.
The first is to release Kylian Mbappé, who operates as a lone striker for PSG on the defensive side. Mbappé’s pace is lethal, plus he has shown a penchant for scoring goals in big games since breaking onto the scene in 2016.
The second read is to feed Neymar, who operates behind Mbappé. The Brazilian star pressures the midfield as best he can, although sometimes it looks like it depends on what kind of mood he’s in.
Against Bayern Munich in the quarterfinal round, PSG started with Angel Di Maria and Julian Draxler on the wings. Both are experienced and disciplined playmakers, who help the Parisians’ incredible counterattack.
As it showed against Bayern Munich, PSG uses those four positions to do the majority of its attacking, especially on the counter. In an ideal counter, it’s just those four who get forward, while the other six outfield players stay behind the ball. With that much quality, it’s not a bad strategy.
Marco Verratti is the center midfielder who is most recognizable to fans, but the preferred duo appears to be Danilo Pereira and Idrissa Gueye. They played the first leg together, while Pereira moved into the center of defense for the second leg with Marquinhos injured. It sounds like Marquinhos will be fit to partner with Presnel Kimpembe in the central defense, so expect Pereira and Gueye to roam the midfield.
You could say PSG was fortunate to come away from the first leg against Bayern Munich with a 3-2 win, in that it only conceded goals on just two occasions. A fit Robert Lewandowski might have greatly changed things. The PSG attack was on full display in the second leg and somehow didn’t score.
It’s possible the Parisians opt for a third midfielder instead of either Draxler or Di Maria given how City will line up, which is likely without a true striker. Verratti could come in, although Leandro Paredes started in midfield in the second quarterfinal leg.
PSG is not going to have the majority of possession in this game, but it might end up with the better chances between the sides.
Due to injuries this season to both of its strikers (Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus), Manchester City has become accustomed to playing with one of its many playmakers as a false nine up top.
Lately, it has been Bernardo Silva. Phil Foden operated there in the Carabao Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend, but I wouldn’t read too much into that given Manchester City’s squad rotation for the game.
Jesus started the Cityzens’ last league game back against Aston Villa, though. If he doesn’t start, expect him to play an important role late in the match.
The big difference in Manchester City this season is in its stellar backline. The signing of Ruben Dias has proven to be a stellar decision, as his pairing his John Stones at center back has proved dominant for most of the season.
Kyle Walker has been steady at right back, while Oleksandr Zinchenko and João Cancelo have been the primary left backs due to the unreliability of Benjamin Mendy’s fitness.
Manchester City’s formation has mostly remained a 4-3-3 this season, with either Rodri or Fernandinho operating as the holding midfielder, which allows the fullbacks and fellow central players a lot of freedom going forward.
Manager Pep Guardiola’s team is likely to have the lion’s share of possession, as it usually does, and that comes a lot of chances. Bayern Munich attacked PSG differently than Manchester City likely will. The Bavarians had the fortune of size in the box, pumping in more crosses than the Cityzens will do.
PSG will have to remain disciplined to make sure Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez are not allowed to get to the touchline, then play the ball toward the penalty spot. Situations like that are when Manchester City is at its best.
What to Expect
Manchester City will dominate possession, but it’s going to need to keep one eye on Neymar and Mbappé at all times. The duo is going to be difficult to contain, likely creating a few fantastic scoring chances.
With the first leg in Paris, don’t be surprised if PSG put an extra emphasis on the clean sheet. The Parisians have the quality to hit on the counter, and shutting the Cityzens out would go a long way in determining who advances to the championship over these two matches.