UEFA : Joe Hart fit to start for Manchester City at PSG in Champions League
Manuel Pellegrini will risk Joe Hart for Manchester City’s Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain despite a recent calf injury, with Eliaquim Mangala claiming the French club pose “no threat” to their hopes of progressing.
Hart has not played since sustaining the injury in the 1-0 defeat against Manchester United on 20 March. However, the goalkeeper trained on Tuesday morning before flying out with the squad and Pellegrini will select him for Wednesday’s first leg at the Parc des Princes, although he accepts the decision could backfire.
“Joe has worked without any problems. There’s always a risk when you are coming back from injury but we’ve done all the medical tests and he is ready to play,” Pellegrini said.
“We consider Paris as a very impressive team with a good project, one that is progressing, so this is why this is a very important match against a big team,” the France central defender said. “They have the experience of being in a quarter- final before and we need to respect their experience but they are not a threat to us, it will be a close game.
“It’s true that in some of the big games we have had some difficulties. We have had many injuries so we have had to cope with the players we have had available. We must prove we are more than 11 players on the pitch and it will be very important to show we can compete against the big teams.”
Mangala also shrugged off the threat posed by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, despite him scoring home and away when PSG knocked Chelsea out of the last 16. “I respect PSG, I respect Zlatan, [Edinson] Cavani and [Ángel] Di María, but I am not scared about them,” he said. “Everyone knows Zlatan and the magnificent career and season he has had, even though he is 34 he is in top condition at the moment. He has been criticised a lot because he has not been decisive in the Champions League in the past, but he has been in the last few games. He is reaching the peak of his career now but we are not just focusing on him.”
Pellegrini denied PSG’s superior experience in the competition makes them favourites. “I don’t think so. Both teams have options to continue to the next stage, maybe if it is a small team you can say they have less options to continue but I don’t think it’s that way. The options are 50% for each team,” he said.
“They represent for me a very big team doing things very well, a similar project toManchester City, a team that wants to grow and trying to improve their project year on year so I have a lot of respect for them.
“I think it’s important for the club [to progress], the manager, the players. Maybe the last two seasons we couldn’t continue further in this competition because we played against a great team like Barcelona. Now we improve this season. It’s a difficult game that we must play but I think we have chances to continue and that will be very important for all of us.”