Sunday, April 22, 2018

Blanc: Manchester City tie will not be easy

SoccerNews in UEFA Champions League 5 Apr 2016


Laurent Blanc has warned his Paris Saint-Germain players against taking Manchester City lightly in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

PSG host City in the first leg on Wednesday at Parc des Princes, with a fourth consecutive Ligue 1 title already in the bag.

By contrast, Manuel Pellegrini’s men lie a distant fourth in the Premier League, having displayed frustratingly inconsistent form throughout the season.

However, their best performances this term have arguably come on the road in Europe – 3-1 wins at Sevilla and Dynamo Kiev – and Blanc, a former Manchester United player, expects a keenly contested tie.

“I have great memories of Manchester, but I was in red and here we encounter the sky blue team,” he told a pre-match news conference.

“Everyone says the draw is easy but it certainly is not and this is what I told the players yesterday.

“What I see is that when there was the draw everyone was happy to avoid Bayern and Barca. 

“We are prepared for two very difficult and sensitive confrontations that will be very tight. Both teams will have their chances.”

Blanc offered encouraging news on Angel Di Maria’s fitness, with the Argentina international having recovered from a blow to the shin that meant he was not risked for Saturday’s 4-1 win over Nice.

The coach also confirmed experienced midfielder Thiago Motta would start in the ongoing absence of Marco Verratti (groin).

Motta could prove to be a pivotal figure if Blanc’s prediction that both teams will look to dictate possession proves to be accurate.

“Their style of play does not suit us because they play like us,” he said. “They want to have control of the game. It’s the key to the game.

“I do not know if it’s an advantage or a disadvantage to [be at home in] the first match. But we must not concede a goal. I think we will defend very well.”

City striker Sergio Aguero scored his 22nd goal of the season in a 4-0 weekend win at AFC Bournemouth.

And Blanc identified the striker and Belgium playmaker Kevin De Bruyne as major threats.

“Aguero is able to adapt to the style of any team and, above all, he scores goals,” he added.

On De Bruyne, Blanc said: “He is a great player. This is a player who scores goals, who can create chances. This is a workforce that is broader than that of Paris Saint-Germain. This is an additional strength in the offensive sector of Manchester City.”


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