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Advantage City, Chelsea but PSG, Real unlikely to give up fight

Advantage City, Chelsea but PSG, Real unlikely to give up fight

DPA
Berlin
Manchester City and Chelsea hold narrow advantages as they look to set up an all-England Champions League final but can take nothing for granted in their semi-final second legs this week.
City host Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday having won 2-1 in the French capital while Chelsea have the potential edge on away goals at home to Real Madrid having secured a 1-1 draw at the record 13-time champions.
The last of seven one-nation finals was in 2019 when Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur but Chelsea have previous experience of one when they lost on penalties to Manchester United in 2008.
City, despite being on the verge of a third Premier League title in four years, are still relative newcomers to the last four of the elite event while PSG were beaten finalists last season.
“This club doesn’t have much experience at this stage of the competition,” admitted coach Pep Guardiola, who won two Champions Leagues with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011 but hasn’t made a final since. “All I want is for us to be ourselves in the second leg.
“We are good playing a certain way, we cannot do it differently.” Only once before have City reached a Champions League semi-final, in 2016 under coach Manuel Pellegrini, and lead thanks to Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez scoring in the second half after Marquinhos gave PSG the lead.
But with Idrissa Gueye being sent off for the hosts, PSG may feel glad simply not to be out of the tie.
“In football you need to believe,” said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino, who led Spurs to the final two years ago.
“We will try to win and score goals. Of course we are under a little bit of pressure, but in football you need to try.” Pochettino is hopeful Kylian Mbappe can to join Neymar in attack. The French forward missed Saturday’s league win over Lens, but has been named in PSG’s travelling squad. Gueye will also make the trip despite being suspended.
Guardiola is likely to continue his heavy rotation in pursuit of the “perfect performance” he says will be necessary to reach the final.
Having already lifted the League Cup, the Champions League offers a potential treble but they could meet Chelsea in the final, the side who ended their quadruple dreams with FA Cup semi-final defeat.
The Londoners have excelled since German coach Thomas Tuchel was named manager mid-season and he said he is “very happy with this group in the semi-final,” even if Mateo Kovacic and Antonio Ruediger are injury doubts.
“We feel ready for a big fight and I’m pretty sure that we need a big performance because Real Madrid will give us a hard time,” he added.
Chelsea stunned Bayern Munich to win the 2012 continental crown and with their women’s team also in the final of their Champions League against Barcelona are two games away from a unique double.
Real are competing on two fronts as they are also part of a remarkable four-way domestic title race in La Liga. Karim Benzema’s brilliant equalizer cancelled Christian Pulisic’s opener last week.
“We’re alive and we’re going to the second leg with the idea of winning,” said coach Zinedine Zidane, who led the team to three successive European triumphs 2016-2018 during his first spell as coach.

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