Top spot in UEFA Champions League Group A will very much on the line as a Paris Saint-Germain with the 'MNM' front line of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé and Neymar on show travel to Manchester City for their crunch Matchday clash on Wednesday.
UEFA Champions League Matchday 5
Manchester City FC - Paris Saint-Germain
- Kick-off at 21:00 CET (20:00 GMT)
Paris Saint-Germain clinched a superb 2-0 win over City in the reverse fixture back on Matchday 2, with Lionel Messi scoring his first goal for the club in the process, and Mauricio Pochettino's men will be hoping for more of the same as they head to the City of Manchester Stadium on Wednesday night.
A 2-2 draw against Leipzig last time out - with Georginio Wijnaldum following Messi's lead by bagging his first goals for the club - saw PSG cede top spot to City by a single point, and now the task will be to overhaul Pep Guardiola's side ahead of a final-day clash with Club Brugge.
'MNM' on show
To do so, Pochettino is tipped to go with a full-strength line-up - albeit with Angel Di Maria on the bench - featuring a dazzling front three of Messi, Mbappé and Neymar. With Messi having scored his first Ligue 1 Uber Eats strike in the 3-1 win over Nantes at the weekend, Mbappé having scored in PSG's last two and Neymar having bagged a brace in a brilliant turn again Bordeaux in Round 13, it seems the time is right for the 'MNM' partnership to go continental.
Verratti: 'They have great players, but so do we"
Key midfielder Marco Verratti - whose return from injury was one of the largely overlooked factors in Paris Saint-Germain's win over City - is certainly looking to seeing a fully armed and operational PSG on the pitch for this crucial encounter.
"It's always better if all the best players are on the pitch for this kind of game, it's a great game between two very good teams," said the Italian Euro winner in the pre-match press conference. "I think a lot of people will be watching this game. With Manchester City, the danger can come from anywhere. We'll have to keep the ball well and defend well when we don't. They have great players, but so do we, so I hope we can put all the ingredients in place to put City in trouble tomorrow."
While Pochettino's only injury absence is Julian Draxler (hamstring), opposite number Guardiola cannot say the same. The Spaniard will be without Kevin De Bruyne (COVID), Jack Grealish and Ferran Torres (both injured) - three key forwards - but Pochettino isn't about to underestimate one of the competition's perennial favourites.
"We are going to play against one of the best teams in the world," said the Argentine. "Our goal is to win, to compete as much as possible to get the result we want. Every game is different."
Also of note for PSG is the inclusion in the squad of big-name summer signing Sergio Ramos. After arriving from Real Madrid with an injury, the Spaniard has taken time to get back to fitness - and is still not ready to play 90 minutes - but could make an appearance off the bench.
"He's doing well," said Pochettino of the renowned stopper. "In the last few weeks he's been with us in training, and he's going to get back to full fitness step by step. This is the first step, which is important. Then, when the opportunity arises, he will play. But we shouldn't rush, because we want him to be at the same level of fitness as his teammates."
Manchester City FC: Ederson; Walker, Stones, Dias, Cancelo; Silva, Rodri, Gundogan; Jesus, Foden, Sterling
Paris Saint-Germain: Donnarumma; Hakimi, Marquinhos (c), Kimpembe, Mendes; Gueye, Verratti, Wijnaldum; Messi, Mbappé, Neymar