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Who Starts, Who Sits vs. PSG

As of now, Yaya is out and Hart is 50/50 to play.

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These two have met only once before: an otherwise forgettable 0-0 draw back in December, 2008. Since that time, you could be forgiven for seeing similarities.

  1. Both clubs have seen a remarkable turnaround in their fortunes thanks in no small part to significant outside investment. This is often derisively referred to as 'oil money' or 'Arabic money' or something similar.
  2. Both clubs don't mind paying above market value (though not nearly as much as critics contend) for star players.
  3. Both clubs have been criticized for their lack of success in the Champions League and to be fair, both clubs have put significant emphasis on CL success.
  4. Both clubs annually make the list of 'teams we'd like to avoid' in any competition.
There are some differences; City have already made team history by making it to the quarterfinals while PSG has been there before. Additionally, PSG's season is largely defined by their CL success since winning Ligue 1 is an afterthought. That's in stark contrast to City. The pressure on Laurent Blanc isn't entirely non-existent during league play but it's nothing compared to what Manuel Pellegrini endures.


City: Yaya Toure, as of this writing, is out. If he's in street clothes, he'll be joined by Vincent Kompany and Raheem Sterling.

PSG: They'll be down two pretty solid midfielders--Marco Verratti and Javier Pastore. The big name attackers and defenders get most of the attention but PSG's midfield is just fantastic.


City: "Despite all the respect I have for PSG, you say yourself that they're beatable. I was at the Chelsea match at the Parc des Princes and Chelsea had chances. We'll have some, too. If Kun has a good day, he can do damage." Samir Nasri

PSG: "They area  good team, a very good team. They have had a lot of success in the years since the project began and they have fantastic individual players. I played with Yaya Toure (at Barcelona). I like him, I like him a lot. And then you have (David) Silva, (Sergio) Aguero--the whole team is strong. You don't watch out for one (player), you need to watch out for the team." Zlatan Ibrahimovic


GOALKEEPER: Joe Hart The last I read, Joe Hart was no better than 50/50 to start. If he's healthy, he'll go but if not, we'll have the Premier League's best back-up in the nets. UPDATE: It's Hart.

LEFT BACK: Gael Clichy One of the regrets I have from the Five Thoughts column after City's blowout of Bournemouth was that I made no mention of Aleksander Kolarov's goal which damn near went through the net. On the road, against a powerful offensive side, I expect Clichy to start---I think he's been the best Left Back in the Prem for over a month--but I wouldn't be surprised if we see Kolarov again in Paris.

CENTER BACK: Eliaquim Mangala He's put together two solid performances in a row, something I don't think I've been able to type this season. After Bournemouth, Pellegrini said City are undefeated when Mangala plays. He's wrong (Liverpool) but Mangala has looked steady. Doesn't mean City fans won't still hold their breath every time he touches the ball.

CENTER BACK: Nicolas Otamendi He's been very, very good. Not Vincent Kompany good but not that far off.

RIGHT BACK: Pablo Zabaleta I hope City fans never, ever forget the play of Bacary Sagna this season. Keep in mind, Sagna came over on a free transfer. That said, this position belongs to Zabaleta from now until the end of the season.

CENTER MIDFIELD: Fernandinho As of now, he's City's player of the year.

CENTER MIDFIELD: Fernando As of now, he's City's most improved player.

LEFT MIDFIELD: Kevin De Bruyne/David Silva

CENTRAL ATTACKING MIDFIELD: Kevin De Bruyne/David Silva They'll switch back and forth, playing off of each other per usual. I'll be interested to see if Silva gets hacked down three or more times as happens every single league game.

RIGHT MIDFIELD: Jesus Navas Three years back, City backed out of the bidding for Gareth Bale and signed four players who were the next cut down from the fabulous five of Aguero, Toure, Silva, Kompany and Hart. Remember? They were Stevan Jovetic, Alvaro Negredo, Fernandinho and this guy. One of the countless predictions I made that turned out to be wrong was my writing that Jovetic would be the best of the lot (he's currently in Roberto Mancini's doghouse) and after his hot start, I thought Alvaro Negredo would be a partner with Aguero for years. I also wrote we were better off getting Bale as opposed to the four that we signed but one can't deny both Fernandinho and Navas have worked out pretty well. I still say Navas is City's most underrated player.

STRIKER: Sergio Aguero My last column--the Five Thoughts after Bournemouth--had a poll question that I honestly thought was going to be closer than it was. Which Premier League striker would you rather have on your team: Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Romelu Lukaku or Sergio Aguero? 84% picked Aguero which roughly coincides with my own informal poll of fellow football writers. Aguero is now and has been seen as a cut above every Premier League striker he's competed against with the exception of Luis Suarez.

NOTE: The above is the predicted lineup. It's the same one Pellegrini used against Bournemouth. That said, if the midfield gets overrun, I think we'll see Delph at halftime, if not sooner, with Navas coming off.