Manuel Pellegrini has backed Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala to win a place in France’s Euro 2016 squad.
Mangala became the most expensive defender in Premier League history when he joined City from Porto in August 2014, but a succession of high-profile errors have littered his time at the Etihad Stadium.
However, the 25-year-old was a star performer in the Champions League quarter-final triumph over Paris Saint-Germain and has played with increasing assurance over recent weeks.
This upturn in form is particularly well-timed for Mangala as a failed drugs test for Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho could open up a centre-back vacancy in Didier Deschamps’ France squad with Euro 2016 on the horizon.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, City boss Manuel Pellegrini said: “I am not the manager of the French team but I think Mangala is having a very good season. Maybe he was not in the squad list of France for the last games because he was just coming back from an injury.
“Always, when Mangala plays in our team we normally win. He is doing very well. In the last four games we have kept three clean sheets, just conceding one goal against Newcastle.
“I am very happy for Eliaquim because he is a very good professional and I’m sure he will be in the squad list. I am sure, if he plays, he will have a very good performance.”
Mangala is expected to line-up alongside fit-again City captain Vincent Kompany versus Madrid and the duo will be faced with one of the most lethal forward lines in world football.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema have travelled with Zinedine Zidane’s squad despite respective thigh and knee complaints and facing such opposition presents a now familiar equation for Kompany.
“When you play against Real Madrid or Barcelona, you know there is always going to be a question about Ronaldo or Messi – and the answer is always going to be the same,” he said, speaking alongside Pellegrini.
“If we perform as a team then we’ve got a chance of stopping him. If not, he’s a really good player and he’ll probably get chances and score goals.
“It’s the same answer as every player always gives before a game against Real Madrid – it’s no different from our side.”
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