Can Mbappé, Neymar bring the magic in Manchester?

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Paris Saint-Germain will be looking to their stars to step up as they look to overcome a 2-1 first-leg defeat when they take on runaway EPL leaders Manchester City at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.

UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg

Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Manchester City - Paris Saint-Germain

- Kick-off at 20:00 GMT

Paris Saint-Germain will need to score at least two goals if they are to book a place in a second successive UEFA Champions League final, and as such coach Mauricio Pochettino will be giving club top scorer Kylian Mbappé every chance to prove his fitness before this - the most important match of the capital club's season so far - kicks off on Tuesday evening

Optimism for Mbappé

The France prodigy has been out with a calf injury and trained separately from the squad on Monday, but is tipped to start at centre-forward, with Neymar Jr, who struck in Paris Saint-Germain's weekend win over Lens, assuming play-making duties just behind him.

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN - RC LENS (2-1)/ Highlights - 2020/2021

Mbappé's contributions - a hat-trick in Barcelona and a double in Munich as PSG toppled big names on their way to the semis - have been a massive part of the capital club's impressive away form in the competition this season and could prove invaluable against a full-strength City in the north of England on Tuesday.

Pochettino: 'Clinical and aggressive'

Whatever the changes Pochettino may make to his line-up after the first-leg that saw Paris take the game to City and go a goal up before capitulating in the second half - and whether Mbappé starts or comes off the bench - the Argentine insists that his side will stick to their guns.

"The system will be similar to the one we have been using since the start: being confident in our potential," said Pochettino, keenly aware that his side need to be on the front foot in order to overturn their away-goal deficit. "We need to find the balance between our possession and the counter-attacks; we are ready to suffer in certain moments of this match. We will need to be clinical and aggressive and we will need to perform for the whole 90 minutes. We need to score two goals to make it to the final, that's what we will try to achieve."

Verratti's key role

Neymar Jr's move to the middle of the park will not only open a space for Julian Draxler to start on the left wing of a 4-2-3-1, but also allow Marco Verratti to drop back into defensive midfield to partner Leandro Paredes.

While the Italian will be needed in front of the defence to cover the suspension absence of Idrissa Gueye, sent off in the first leg, his world-class on-ball skills should also give PSG the added capacity to play through the intense midfield pressing that City used to stifle the Parisians' game in the second half at the Parc des Princes a week ago.

"We will need to play our best football, create chances and make the most of the match," said Verratti in the pre-match presser, clearly aware of the feat necessary to topple a side who have never been eliminated from European competition after winning a first leg away from home. "Football is played for the pleasure of it, but there is also the psychological side, which will count a lot too. We will need to show a lot of character. In this kind of match, nothing ever happens exactly as you expect. Sometimes you need little strokes of genius to change the shape of the match, but we will need to be at our best tomorrow."

Pochettino: 'We will be ready'

Pochettino and his men are clearly well aware that now is the time to step up and give their absolute best. They have the talent, drive and quality to spring an upset, but can they rise to the psychological challenge?

"Playing in a semi-final is very difficult. A final is played in one match, but the emotional load over the two matches is difficult to manage," said the PSG boss. "They have the lead, so we know that we will need to take risks and above all, to be courageous. It will be another great battle, a difficult one, but we will be ready."


Probable teams

Manchester City: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Zinchenko; Silva, Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez, De Bruyne (c), Foden

Paris Saint-Germain: Navas; Florenzi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Diallo; Paredes, Verratti; Di Maria, Neymar, Draxler; Mbappé