Man City must overcome European 'inferiority complex' against PSG
City poised for last four in Europe, but much depends on their defence as Ibrahimovic and Di Maria come to town
The second instalment of what has been christened "El Cashico" will see either Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain reach the uncharted territory of the Champions League semi-finals.
It is a battle between two clubs whose Middle Eastern owners have helped transform the landscape of European football, but although City arrived at the top table before the French side, they still appear ill at ease in Europe, says James Ducker, of the Daily Telegraph.
The Etihad was still not sold out 24 hours before the match and the push to sell the final tickets has focused on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and PSG rather than City's own galaxy of stars.
It smacks "of a club just happy to have made it as far as the Champions League quarter-finals", says Ducker.
"Yes, this is City's first appearance at this stage of the competition. Yes, PSG are in their fourth successive Champions League quarter-final. And, yes, there is a clear case of City fans still struggling to warm to the competition.
"Yet City are a big club in their own right, England's number one team in two of the past three seasons, well run off the field with a burgeoning academy, and hold enough clout to have enticed the world's most revered coach, Pep Guardiola, to Manchester from the summer. They shouldn't be deferring to anyone."
"Firstly, seeing off a team with PSG's growing reputation would represent City's finest achievement in Europe of the modern era, and the biggest scalp yet for a club where it still feels suspiciously like they have an inferiority complex in this competition. Secondly, it might help to convince the club's fans that the Champions League is a competition to embrace when, until this point, it has been an awkward relationship."
The match "is not just City’s biggest European tie - it is [Manuel] Pellegrini's biggest opportunity to salvage something from what has, largely, been a disappointing season", says Paul Hirst of The Times. "Beat PSG to reach the last four of the competition for the first time and he will leave with more respect and pride in the bank."
But the manager will have to do it without Vincent Kompany, who remains sidelined with a calf injury. That means Nicolas Otamendi and Eliaquim Mangala will be tasked with stopping Ibrahimovic and co.
But Ibrahimovic will not be deterred by his opponents. "Anyone who watched the first leg in Paris, particularly the opening 25 minutes, would not regard Otamendi and Mangala as a solid centre-half pairing," says Hirst.
Angel di Maria will also be keen to inflict some damage on his return to Manchester after an unhappy season at United. Hirst claims that he is "probably one of the most unwelcome people in the city at the moment".
He adds: "Di Maria does not have many fans in Manchester and tonight he has a real chance to add to that number by helping PSG advance to the semi-finals for the first time in 21 years."