Seeking to avenge their September defeat at the Parc des Princes, Manchester City welcome Paris Saint-Germain to the Etihad Stadium for Wednesday’s Champions League Group A battle.
The hosts currently sit at the summit with nine points to their name, but PSG are only one point behind and will also eye qualification to the next round this week.
Two weeks after putting five past surprise package Club Brugge on their Belgian turf, Man City produced an equally ruthless performance to comfortably dispatch their Group A counterparts in Manchester, with Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus on the scoresheet in a 4-1 success.
Such a thumping saw this merciless City side surge to the top of the rankings in Group A after PSG were held by RB Leipzig, and Pep Guardiola’s side will assure themselves of a first-placed finish and a spot in the last 16 with all three points against PSG.
City’s bid for back-to-back Premier League titles also gathered pace at the weekend with a comprehensive 3-0 thumping of Everton – during which Rodri scored one of the goals of the season – but Guardiola is still after that elusive European crown.
Domestic triumphs are bread and butter to the Catalan coach at this point, but City have swept aside nearly all that has been put before them in the Champions League so far this season – racking up 15 goals in their four group-stage games – a tally that can only be bettered by Bayern Munich.
It is now three wins on the bounce in all competitions for Man City heading into the visit of PSG, and they are on an eight-game winning streak at home in the Champions League, but lightning has struck twice in this fixture before.
Many could not have foreseen Lionel Messi taking six Ligue 1 games to get off the mark for PSG following his summer arrival, but the Argentine will hope to consign his slow start to life in the French capital to history after putting the cherry on the icing on the cake against Nantes.
Kylian Mbappe took just two minutes to draw first blood before Randal Kolo Muani equalised after Keylor Navas’s sending off, but the 10 men of PSG fought back to claim all three points courtesy of Dennis Appiah’s own goal and Messi’s 87th-minute effort.
However, PSG’s chances of a first-placed finish in Champions League Group A took a significant hit against RB Leipzig last time out, as a late penalty from Dominik Szoboszlai saw the Bundesliga side rescue a 2-2 draw to leave Mauricio Pochettino and two-goal midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum ruing what could have been.
As a result, second-placed PSG are now one point behind City in the rankings but boast a four-point cushion over third-placed Brugge, so their rightful place in the knockout rounds should not be in any real jeopardy as they aim to end a three-game winless run on the road in Europe.
A thunderbolt from Messi and strike from Idrissa Gueye saw PSG prevail 2-0 over Man City in Paris two months ago, but Guardiola’s men won 2-0 at home in last season’s semi-finals, and the visitors are without a goal at the Etihad from their previous three battles on the Manchester turf.
Manchester City Champions League form:
Manchester City form (all competitions):
Paris Saint-Germain Champions League form:
Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions):
We say: Manchester City 2-2 Paris Saint-Germain
PSG have historically struggled for a clinical edge at the Etihad, but their recent goalscoring exploits with the famed front three should certainly see them register at least once in midweek.
Neither coach will be satisfied with a point as the race to make the last-16 in Group A goes right down to the wire, but it is difficult to see a clear winner in this battle, and we expect the two sides to play out an enthralling four-goal draw.