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Mbappe and Neymar can tear Manchester City's defence apart

Mon Apr 26, 2021
In what can only be described as a can't-miss Champions League semi-final tie, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain will do battle. And there are two players that are likely to be liking their lips ahead of Wednesday's first leg at the Parc des Princes: Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. Despite Ruben Dias and John Stones' partnership this year, there are still concerns over Manchester City's defence, especially against the best teams in Europe. The way Pep Guardiola sets up will always concede chances, and we've seen that PSG are able to fully punish teams who try and utilise a high defensive line. PSG regularly caused Bayern Munich problems in their quarter-final tie, with Neymar and Mbappe getting in behind with frightening regularity. Manchester City will give away similar chances, but we must remember that the French team's defence is equally as underwhelming. Danilo Pereira is having to fill in at centre-back, whilst Marquinhos' fitness is a real concern moving forward. If the Brazilian can feature alongside Presnel Kimpembe on Wednesday, though, that will be a real boost for Mauricio Pochettino. It's difficult to see anyone keeping a clean sheet across both legs of this semi-final, with it being the polar opposite of Manchester City's last venture to this stage of the tournament against Real Madrid in 2013. Whichever midfield can protect their defence the most will have the advantage. Rodri and Fernandinho have alternated in the holding role this term, whilst PSG will feel much more comfortable having Marco Verratti back in front of their defence next to Idrissa Gueye. With some of the attacking football we're likely to see being on another level, it will be important for one set of midfielders to shine. That added layer of protection to the defence could make the difference for either team, and this is an area where the teams are evenly matched. Raheem Sterling's poor form is a worry, especially as it continued into Sunday's Carabao Cup final. Sergio Aguero is being frozen out by Guardiola, with it announced he will leave the club at the end of his contract in June. As such, a lot of the attacking pressure has fallen on the shoulders of Gabriel Jesus, but with Pep's penchant for using a striker-less system, it's intriguing to wonder just how he will setup against PSG. Will Jesus up front alone be physical enough to test Marquinhos? Will Kevin De Bruyne be forced to push further up and cut inside, leaving a dangerous gap on the left for Neymar or Mbappe to fully exploit. PSG faced the best team in Europe in Bayern Munich and progressed, despite being mostly outplayed over the two matches. Manchester City, on the other hand, haven't faced a team with this attacking firepower all season, even if they have tasted defeat against Manchester United earlier this year. Mbappe and Neymar have the potential to surprise City, because their defence simply hasn't been tested enough this term, and this could make for a spectacularly entertaining tie on the pitch.


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