Paris Saint-Germain have received a major boost going into the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie with Manchester City after Laurent Blanc confirmed Angel Di Maria is in line to feature after returning to full fitness.
Blanc’s decision to leave Di Maria out of his side’s 4-1 win over Nice on Saturday has paid dividends as the Argentina international has managed to shake off a muscle complaint in time to face the Citizens.
The PSG manager did, however, reveal that midfield duo Marco Verratti and Javier Pastore are both ruled out, meaning Thiago Motta will start against City at Parc des Princes.
Motta will come into an area of the field which Blanc believes will be key to who can emerge victorious in the French capital, insisting both sides will look to dominate possession.
“Their style of play does not suit us because they play like us,” Blanc told a pre-match press conference. “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.”
PSG play hosts to City with their fourth consecutive Ligue 1 title already in the bag, while they are also in the final and semi-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France respectively.
By contrast, Manuel Pellegrini’s men lie a distant fourth in the Premier League, having displayed frustratingly inconsistent form throughout the season.
However, City’s 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 continued.
“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.”
City striker Sergio Aguero scored his 22nd goal of the season in a 4-0 weekend win at Bournemouth ahead of their trip to Paris.
And Blanc identified the striker and Belgium playmaker Kevin De Bruyne as major threats for his side to be wary of.
“Aguero is able to adapt to the style of any team and, above all, he scores goals,” he added.
On De Bruyne specifically, 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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