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City struggling to fill Etihad stadium against PSG

11 April 2016, 20:29

Manchester - Manchester City is trying to harness the star power of Paris Saint-Germain forwards Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Angel Di Maria in a late bid to fill the stadium.

City told The Associated Press on Monday afternoon that it had 1,595 remaining seats out of 53,045 for Tuesday's second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals. The club website was still showing availability in many parts of the Etihad Stadium as radio stations in the city began airing ads calling the match "unmissable."

There's still much to play for, with City holding a slight advantage after securing a 2-2 draw in Paris on Wednesday.

Also read: Verratti, Pastore with 'small chance' of City return

City manager Manuel Pellegrini is trying to end his career with the club in May by delivering the club's first European title. Winning could also be the only route back into the competition next season when Pep Guardiola is in charge, with City's place in the top four of the Premier League not yet secured.

"The fans maybe for different reasons have not been 100 percent (attending games) in this European competition," Pellegrini said Monday. "But as we continue further they will (come). They know tomorrow is a very important achievement for the club so I don't have any doubt we will have ... a full capacity."

It's the latest sign of an uneasy relationship with the Champions League and competition organizer UEFA, which sanctioned City and PSG because their owners spent too much to strengthen their squads.

Throughout the season City has booed the Champions League anthem when it is played before games. But it has coincided with City's best run in Europe's elite competition.

"If you are superstitious, we continue winning when they boo the anthem," Pellegrini said.

Here are some other things to know about Tuesday's match:


PSG coach Laurent Blanc is debating whether to risk starting central midfielder Marco Verratti against City.

The Italy international is trying to recover from a groin injury that has kept him sidelined since Feb. 20.

Blanc is desperate to have him back given how cheaply PSG gave the ball away in midfield in the first leg, with both of City's goals stemming from sloppy mistakes near the halfway line.

With midfielder Blaise Matuidi suspended for the game, Blanc has an even greater need for Verratti. One solution could be to bring Verratti on in the second half.


With center half David Luiz suspended, the versatile Marquinhos is expected to line up in central defense for PSG.

Marquinhos was left out of the side in the first leg to make way for the return of Serge Aurier. The defender was right back into the side following a club suspension for an expletive-laced rant on social media where he insulted Blanc and teammates.

Marquinhos was a regular in Aurier's absence and felt he should have started at right back instead of him. Blanc's decision to select Aurier instead, given the circumstances and given Aurier's lack of match fitness, faced criticism in France.

Aurier was at fault for City's second goal, losing the ball as he pushed up into midfield and then getting involved in a mix-up with center half Thiago Silva in the penalty area.


City will be without captain Vincent Kompany after the veteran defender failed to recover from a right knee injury after a month on the sidelines.

"We have to have a lot of trust in the squad," Pellegrini said.

- AP


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