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Friday 9 December 2016

Blow for City as Kompany loses battle

Pellegrini must face Zlatan and PSG without influential skipper

Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany during training yesterday
Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany during training yesterday

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has lost his battle to be fit for his side's decisive Champions League quarter-final clash against Paris Saint-Germain.

The influential Belgium defender had been hoping to feature in the second leg at the Etihad Stadium after a month on the sidelines with the latest in a long line of calf-related problems.

But despite the 30-year-old being involved in training, Kompany's involvement has been deemed too much of a risk by manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Pellegrini said: "Vincent Kompany is not 100 per cent."

Asked if he could still play, Pellegrini said: "No, it is not possible."

Pellegrini had previously suggested Kompany could be fit, so the news will come as a blow for a tie in which the score is locked at 2-2 after a thrilling first leg last week.

Centre

But City will have Nicolas Otamendi in the centre of defence despite a minor scare over a twisted ankle in the weekend win over West Brom and Pellegrini has faith in his back line.

Pellegrini said: "I am absolutely confident because with this defence we played a lot of games here in the Premier League and in the Champions League and if we are in this stage it is because we have good defenders.

"We have had a lot of injuries (this season) but I trust 100 per cent in the players who can play."

Playmaker David Silva will return after resting an ankle injury and the blow to the foot Sergio Aguero took in the latter stages on Saturday has not proved serious.

Pellegrini recognises both sides have everything to play for after an evenly-contested first encounter at the Parc des Princes in which both sides showed good some attacking play but also made costly errors.

The Chilean said: "When we started this stage against Paris Saint-Germain I said I didn't think one team could be favourites. I continue thinking exactly the same.

"We have to play a tough game against a very good team. We knew that before we played in Paris and we went there to try to win from the beginning.

"Tomorrow we are going to do exactly the same thing because it is the way this team play."

City, bidding to reach the semi-finals for the first time, are hoping to be roared on to victory by a capacity crowd.

Despite the importance of the game, ticket sales have been slow with many fans complaining about prices, which include a most expensive seat of £60.

But the result of the first leg has seen a late surge for tickets and 51,400 out of a competition-reduced capacity of 53,000 have been sold as of Monday afternoon. That already exceeds the club's European home attendance record.

Pellegrini said: "Tomorrow we will have a full capacity here. The fans, for different reasons, they have not been involved 100 percent in this competition but as we continue further they will do it. They know tomorrow is a very important achievement for the club."

Dislike

The other issue concerning fans is their long-running dislike of European governing body UEFA, which manifests itself in their booing of the Champions League anthem.

Pellegrini was asked if that might set the wrong tone for such a big occasion for the team but he did not seem concerned.

He said: "It depends if you are superstitious or not. If you are superstitious - we continue winning when they boo the anthem!"

To progress City will need to keep PSG's prolific striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiet. The Swede scored in the first leg despite a below-par performance in which he missed a penalty.

Ibrahimovic is out of contract in the summer and has long been linked with a move to England, with the latest stories identifying him as a potential Manchester United target.

City defender Bacary Sagna said: "Zlatan has been doing well in every single league he has played in. He has played in Holland, Italy and now in France and has always been a massive player and done well. If he ever comes to the Premier League, I wouldn't be surprised, and I think he can do well here."

Champions League: Manchester City v PSG (Live TV3/BT Sport Eur 7.45)

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