Paris Saint-Germain have still not decided whether Kylian Mbappe will feature in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final with Manchester City on Tuesday.

Mauricio Pochettino's men face an uphill battle to progress to the final for the second successive season after losing the home leg 2-1 at Parc des Princes.

PSG must score at least twice to go through but could be without Mbappe, who missed Saturday's Ligue 1 game with Lens because of a calf injury.

He did not have a shot in the first leg, marking the first time he failed to muster an attempt after starting a game in his Champions League career.

Still, plotting a turnaround at the Etihad Stadium will be significantly more difficult without Mbappe, who has been involved in the most shot-ending sequences (60) of any player still left in the competition.

Since joining PSG in 2017, Mbappe has missed only two of their 38 Champions League games, with the capital club winning one and losing the other. Their shots-per-game average is 13.6 when he plays compared to 8.5 across the two matches he missed.

Asked about Mbappe's availability, head coach Pochettino replied on Monday: "We need to assess Kylian, today.

"He is going to start with an individual training session, we still didn't decide whether he is going to be available or not tomorrow.

"We will see today and take the decision tomorrow."

Idrissa Gueye will not feature after he was sent off in the first leg, the midfielder receiving a two-match ban for a straight red card he received during a second half in which PSG had just one shot and 35 per cent of possession.

Pochettino knows PSG cannot allow City to dominate the game again if they are to have a hope of getting through to the Istanbul showpiece.

"We need to be clinical and we need to be aggressive," he added. "We need two goals if we want to have the possibility to go through to the final. That is the objective and we are going to try.

"We need to take the risk, we need to be brave, we need to plan the game knowing Manchester City is a team that can manage a different way to play.

"It's going to be a battle, it's going to be difficult, but the most important thing is that we are going to be ready."

The odds are stacked against PSG, with English sides having won the previous 47 ties in the competition when they have won the first leg away.

However, Pochettino believes there will be no shortage of motivation to upset the odds in the PSG camp.

"Houston, we have a problem if we need to motivate our players," said Pochettino with a smile. 

"We need to have a call if that happens. Players love to play this type of game."

Pep Guardiola believes his Manchester City players are facing the toughest task in European football as they take on Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Second-half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez saw City come from behind to claim a 2-1 win in Paris last week, putting them in prime position to reach their first final in Europe's top competition.

Guardiola is a two-time winner dating back to his Barcelona tenure a decade ago, but knows the semi-final stage can be particularly unforgiving.

Inter and Chelsea ended Barca's title defences at the penultimate hurdle in 2010 and 2012, while LaLiga heavyweights Real Madrid, Barca and Atletico accounted for Bayern Munich in the semis across Guardiola's three seasons in Bavaria.

"From my experience, the semi-final is always difficult," he told a pre-match news conference, having confirmed City have all senior players available with the exception of back-up defender Eric Garcia, who is laid low with a sickness bug.

"You play with the result of the first leg, you play with the mind here [thinking] final, final, final. Sometimes you can forget what you have to do.

"Always in my experience the second leg of the semi-final is the difficult one. The final is completely different, it doesn't mean it's easier, it's completely different."

Not that Guardiola feels his previous years sampling the highs and lows of the Champions League will have much bearing against Mauricio Pochettino's side, nor City's own trials, having finally snapped a run of three consecutive quarter-final exits.

"I don't know if it works in this competition, in this moment, experience," he said.

"I'd like to feel we've learned from our defeats but I don't know how we're going to react – it's always a mystery.

"The disappointment we had, especially in the last two seasons in the quarter-finals against Spurs and Lyon, being here again is nice.

"I'd love to say we'd learned from that but maybe tomorrow we can play a bad game. At the same time, what I think right now is we'll do an incredible game and reach the final.

"This is my feeling, but if the other ones are better we congratulate the opponent. We don't want to miss this opportunity by not being ourselves. I've a feeling we are going to do well."

Guardiola has frequently urged City to "be who we are" in the face of crunch moments this season – an approach that has left them on the brink of a third Premier League title in four attempts and secured a fourth consecutive EFL Cup.

It was also a feature of his team talks as City turned around half-time deficits away from home against Borussia Dortmund and PSG to lie within touching distance of a maiden Champions League final.

Having been accused, sometimes unfairly, of over-thinking major European nights in his career, a yearning to keep things simple appears to be Guardiola's mantra this time around.

"Sometimes, in these type of games, you don't need much emotions. Start to be more calm and know exactly what you have to do," he said.

"I don't have to tell anyone what we've lived through for 11 months, not just players – the backroom staff, the physios, the doctors, the cooks. Everybody knows how important it is and how we have been looking, for many, many years, for this moment."

Guardiola added: "We spoke a lot yesterday and today about who we are, what we have to do. It's not necessary to speak more about PSG because we played against them one week ago.

"I speak about us, us and us and what we have to do. We are going to try to do it."

John Stones is relishing the prospect of tangling with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe once more as Manchester City eye a place in the Champions League final.

Pep Guardiola's side came from behind to claim a 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain last week at the Parc des Princes, putting them in a strong position for Tuesday's return at the Etihad Stadium.

PSG's all-star attack was largely nullified, centre-back Marquinhos having headed them into an early lead, and especially so after half-time.

Mbappe failed to attempt a single shot for the first time in a Champions League game where he has completed 90 minutes, with Stones and central defensive partner Ruben Dias understandably taking plenty of plaudits for their display.

"It's never easy, whoever we come up against. On the big occasions it matters the most," Stones told reporters at a Monday news conference, after Mbappe was confirmed as a member of PSG's travelling party despite sustaining a calf issue during the initial encounter.

"To come up against two world-class players is exciting for us as defenders. To test ourselves, show our ability and show how we can adapt to the challenge ahead to keep them quiet.

"I think we did that really, really well in the second half of the previous game

"It's another exciting spectacle tomorrow. Hopefully we can keep the whole team quiet, not just those two and get through to something special, which would be the final."

City are in the semi-finals for the first time since 2016, with a slew of knockout stage disappointments having afflicted them under Guardiola.

However, Stones feels setbacks versus Monaco, Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon over recent seasons will serve to sharpen collective minds as PSG aim to overturn the deficit.

"I do think all those things that have happened, us going out, have made us a stronger team," he said.

"The disappointment of getting knocked out in harsh circumstances is hard to take and something we have had to use season-on-season – especially this season – as fuel to go and motivate us to make that next step and get our goal, which is to win the Champions League.

"This season we have a great opportunity to get into the final. Just try to use those emotions of disappointment to motivate us to do better."

Stones frequently repeated the refrain that City must "be who we are" in the second leg – very much maxim for his manager over recent weeks – and believes playing for a draw could be fatal to their chances.

"I think we have to attack the game as we would every other game, definitely go out to win. We've never gone into a game if we're in a good position thinking we need to sit there and defend," the England international added.

"It's a downward spiral if we go into the game like that. We do what we've always done, be who we are and try to win the game. Play as Man City. Everyone knows how we play."

Real Madrid look set to be without Raphael Varane for the Champions League second leg against Chelsea after confirming the defender has an injury to his right abductor muscle.

Varane did not feature in the second half for Madrid in Saturday's 2-0 win over Osasuna, Nacho coming on to take his place.

Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane remained hopeful that the France international may be fit to play at Stamford Bridge, yet the club's official medical update on Monday was less optimistic.

Los Blancos announced they will continue to monitor the hip issue and did not indicate an expected return date.

"Following the tests carried out today on our player Raphael Varane by the Real Madrid medical services, he has been diagnosed with an injury to the right abductor muscle. His recovery will be monitored," a short statement from the club read.

Varane played in the first meeting with Chelsea last week, a game that ended in a 1-1 draw as Karim Benzema scored to cancel out Christian Pulisic's 14th-minute opener.

His potential absence will be a blow for Zidane as he plans for the return fixture on Wednesday, though Madrid have prospered without him in the competition already this season.

Nacho partnered Eder Militao in both legs of the quarter-final against Liverpool, the pair helping to keep a clean sheet at Anfield as Madrid progressed 3-1 on aggregate.

However, Zidane could also have Sergio Ramos available again – the club captain returned to training last week, though did not feature in the league fixture against Osasuna and has not played since suffering an injury while on international duty with Spain at the end of March.

Madrid are winless in their previous four away games against English opponents in the Champions League, scoring only two goals across those games.

The reigning LaLiga champions have also never managed a win over Chelsea in European competition, drawing twice with two defeats in the previous meetings between the clubs.

Kylian Mbappe has been named in Paris Saint-Germain's travelling squad for the crucial second leg of their Champions League semi-final at Manchester City.

The France forward was absent for Saturday's 2-1 Ligue 1 win over Lens having sustained a calf injury in the first-leg defeat to Pep Guardiola's side at the Parc des Princes last Wednesday.

Speaking after the Lens game, Pochettino spoke of his hope that Mbappe would be able to travel to Manchester as PSG – runners-up last term – attempt to rescue a tie in which they trail 2-1.

"I'm optimistic for Kylian," Pochettino told reporters. "We assess him day by day. I think he'll be able to play."

While it still remains to be seen if Mbappe will be back, PSG fans may feel reassured by the fact he was named as part of the travelling contingent.

Only Erling Haaland (10) has more goals than Mbappe's eight in this season's Champions League (slightly above an expected goals average of 7.31), while only four players have registered more than his three assists.

Mbappe ranks fourth for shots on target (15), second for 'big' chances scored (seven), fifth for chances created (20) and first for 'big' chances created (eight).

PSG also confirmed Idrissa Gueye would make the trip despite being suspended after being sent off in the first leg.

Inter reached the pinnacle in 2009-10 – Jose Mourinho delivering an unprecedented Serie A, Champions League and Coppa Italia treble.

Still to this day, Inter remain the only Italian club to achieve the feat, having claimed the Champions League for the first time in 45 years.

Not since 2010 had Inter got their hands on the Scudetto, while up until 2020, the Nerazzurri had gone eight consecutive Serie A seasons without a top-two finish – ending a campaign as low as ninth in 2012-13.

Step forward Antonio Conte.

Criticism was directed at Inter when former Juventus chief executive Giuseppe Marotta turned to a Bianconeri great and rival to restore the club's fortunes in Milan.

After instant improvement in 2019-20 – a runners-up finish in Serie A to go with a run to the Europa League final and Coppa Italia semis – Conte delivered, breaking Juve's stranglehold on Italian football this season.

Inter's triumph ended a run of nine successive Scudetti for Juve, three of which were won by Conte when he was in charge of the Turin giants from 2011 to 2014.

"Those who played with Inter or have been a coach at Inter realise it's a complicated situation," Conte told Sky Sport Italia amid the celebrations. "You have to understand the various dynamics, at times play along, but never lose your identity and I never lost my identity.

"I think that was appreciated by those who at first had turned their noses up at me because of my past. I was brought to Inter in order to bring it back to victory within three years and I did that."

While there are four rounds remaining, Inter will be starting to plan for 2021-22 and as a sea of blue and black shirts flood the Milan streets, what is next for Conte and his team?


Convince Conte about Inter's future

Conte earned his fourth Serie A title this season – only five other coaches in league history have managed at least four.

The former Italy boss is only the second coach in Serie A history to win a Scudetto with both Inter and Juve, joining Giovanni Trapattoni, though his greatest achievement might just be the transformation of Christian Eriksen from flop headed for an exit to the face of Inter's XI.

Conte ended Inter's 11-year drought and while many involved with the Nerazzurri hope it is the start of a winning cycle, his future at San Siro remains uncertain.

The 51-year-old has spoken out against the club's hierarchy previously, particularly at the end of last season amid serious concerns he would be resign or be sacked.

His position is once again in the spotlight as he reportedly plans to meet with Inter president Steven Zhang.

Suning Holdings Group owns Inter after the Chinese company acquired a majority stake in the club in June 2016, but rumours persist that a sale could happen due to the economic fallout caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Contracted until the end of next season, Conte – never one to shy away from his opinions – is believed to want clarity over Suning's position and whether he will be able to strengthen his squad in the transfer window.

"We certainly focused on the present, as this was too important to get it done and bring Inter back to winning the Scudetto after so many years out," Conte, who was also criticised for his style of football, told Sky Sport Italia on Sunday.

"The president has arrived now, there are four games left. As I have more experience, I now also want to enjoy this moment, because in the past I got myself caught up in other problems and didn't really enjoy it enough.

"There will be time to talk together, to understand the situation, try to organise ourselves and see what comes out of it. However, at the moment, I want to enjoy this with the players, the club, the fans and everyone, because we all earned this. I don't want anyone to disturb what we achieved."

While Marotta is hopeful over Conte's future, it remains to be seen whether he will be back to defend Inter's crown.


Hold onto Lukaku

Inter's precarious financial position could have an impact on Conte's trusted talisman – Lukaku.

Like Conte, Lukaku arrived at Inter amid criticism and doubts over his ability to spearhead the club's title charge. Forking out a club-record fee to prise the Belgian star from Manchester United in 2019 did little to alleviate expectations.

Lukaku scored 34 goals in his debut season at San Siro, 23 of those coming in Serie A. The 27-year-old has well and truly silenced his critics again this term with 21 goals and 10 assists in the league thus far.

Not since his final season at Everton has Lukaku attempted or completed more dribbles (97 and 52 in 2020-21), meaning he is back facing the goal again, involved in 13 counter-attacks – his most since 2014-15. He also has 10 assists for the first time.

Yet Lukaku is still taking the largest share of his touches in the box to date (18.3 per cent), leading to a career-high 35 big chances.

From such positions, he can afford to squander 17 big chances and net only 16 non-penalty goals from efforts worth 16.8 xG, another new benchmark.

Lukaku is now scoring with a staggering 23.6 per cent of his shots – making him the first Serie A player since 2004-05 to tally 20 goals and 10 assists in the same season.

His exploits reportedly have Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and Manchester City queuing up to exploit Inter's economic situation and sign their prized asset.

Refusing to cash in on Lukaku could go a long way in convincing Conte and shaping Inter's future for years to come.

 

Make a splash in Champions League

Inter have built a strong side under Conte – Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi, Nicolo Barella, Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, Stefano Sensi, Ashley Young, Aleksandar Kolarov and Matteo Darmian all joining the quest for silverware.

But for all of Inter's success this season, their Champions League campaign left a sour taste.

Inter – Europa League finalists in 2019-20 – looked on track to reach the Champions League last 16 in a group featuring Madrid, Borussia Monchengladbach and Shakhtar Donetsk. Instead the 2009-10 winners finished bottom. Conte's Inter also failed to make it out of the group last season, taking a backseat to Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

While Inter's early Champions League exit aided their Scudetto charge this term, the club and their fans are craving European delight.

Only twice since Mourinho's treble-winning campaign – before a six-season Champions League absence – have Inter made it out of the group stage of Europe's elite club competition.

Inter legend Walter Zenga – regarded as one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time having amassed 473 appearances for the Italian powerhouse – recently told Stats Perform News: "In Europe you play different. In the Champions League you play totally different, in the Champions League it looks like no tactics, only who is stronger.

"We are thinking about tactics all the time [in Italy] and this is our mentality. If you see the game of the Italian league, it is a very strong game, if you think that is boring, in the stands it is not boring because if you are involved, you have to take an aspirin after the game because it's so strong. If you see the Spanish league, it looks like they play slow, but when you play against the Spanish teams, [sometimes] you don't touch the ball because you don't know where they are. 

"In Germany or in France, it is less interesting the season, then when you play against them in in Champions League, you have to make a big effort because you're thinking, 'Oh in Germany there are only two teams, Bayern and Borussia Dortmund, it is not competitive championship' and then when you play against them, you see it is so strong.

"So it's a question about the mentality and everything. To win in Europe in my opinion, you have to play to win. And probably you find either the clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, like this team that if you read the line-up specially at the top… the talent and the quality, class is the difference in Europe. I don't know what is in the mind of Conte or of the management of Inter, but in Europe, I think that you need the world-class players."


Time to farewell Handanovic?

With four games remaining, Inter – 13 points clear atop the table – have matched their points (82) and clean sheets (14) totals for the whole of last season, when they finished a point behind Juventus.

Inter have the stingiest defence in the league, having only conceded 29 goals in 34 matches so far.

Samir Handanovic – a loyal Inter servant – has contributed greatly with 14 clean sheets but the long-serving goalkeeper appears on the decline.

Errors have crept into Handanovic's game during the backend of this season. The 36-year-old, who joined from Udinese in 2012, has three errors leading to goals, compared to just one last term.

Among the goalkeepers for the top seven clubs in the league in 2020-21, only Roma's Pau Lopez recorded more (four). For comparison, Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma (two) and Juventus' Wojciech Szczesny (one) are next on the list – Napoli's David Ospina, Lazio shot-stopper Pepe Reina, Atalanta's Pierluigi Gollini and reported Inter target Juan Musso of Udinese have none to their name.

Among that same list, Handanovic has conceded the highest number of goals outside of the penalty area (five), while his three dropped shots are only exceeded by Donnarumma and Reina (both four). In 2019-20, Handanovic finished with only three goals conceded outside the box and three drops.

Musso has emerged as a strong option for Inter and if they want to take the next step in Europe while fending off a domestic challenge, it may be time to move on from Handanovic.

An elated Antonio Conte claimed Inter's Champions League exit was a significant moment in their season as he celebrated winning the Serie A title.

Atalanta's 1-1 draw with Sassuolo on Sunday meant the Nerazzurri were crowned champions of Italy for the first time since Jose Mourinho's treble-winning side in 2009-10.

It also ended a run of nine consecutive Scudetti for Juventus, three of which were won by Conte when he was in charge from 2011 to 2014.

With four games remaining, Conte's men have matched their points (82) and clean sheets (14) totals for the whole of last season, when they finished a point behind the Bianconeri.

They are 13 points clear at the top and have only lost twice in all competitions since the turn of the year.

Their form in 2021 looks all-the-more impressive considering they endured a run of two wins in 10 games in all competitions in October and November, while December saw them crash out of Europe after one win from six games in their Champions League group.

Conte felt criticism of Inter's European form was unjust and thinks that disappointment strengthened his side's resolve in their Scudetto challenge.

Speaking to Rai and Sky Sport Italia, he said: "I think the key moment was in the week we exited the Champions League, when criticism rained down on us in perhaps an exaggerated way.

"It wasn't easy. We had a group of guys who weren't used to winning. We did well to compact ourselves and take criticism to become even stronger.

"The best thing that happened to me is to have found a group that trusted me and my leadership implicitly. The players' growth has led to this result.

"They asked me what Inter needed; I replied that every player must raise the bar, not only from a footballing point of view, but also from a mental point of view.

"The boys are no longer players who take part, but who have won.

"I put it among the most important successes of my career. It was difficult because it was not an easy choice for me to come to Inter, during a time when the team was certainly not competitive or had the resources to achieve something important.

"Plus, I was going to a club who are rivals with Juventus, where I played for many years, and who were dominating the league. There were many negative situations that I was going into.

"Instead, I eagerly accepted the challenge and I think the hard work repaid all those sacrifices."

Conte will take his Inter to face old club Juve on May 15, where he intends to put on something of a show even though their season is effectively over.

"It will be a match where, beyond the table, we want to do our best. We managed to win with four games to spare, but we'll still go there to play for the victory," he said.

"It's always a pleasure for me to enter the [Allianz] Stadium. Now, I'm learning how to do it as an opponent.

"Having won with four games left is testament to the good work everyone has done. We want to continue to do well, but it's right to give more room to those who have played less.

"We'll try to do our best until the end. They know the mentality I expect from them."

Raphael Varane only has a minor injury, according to Zinedine Zidane, who is hoping the centre-back will be fit to face Chelsea in midweek.

Varane was taken off at half-time against Osasuna on Saturday, with Madrid going on to win 2-0 thanks to late goals from Eder Militao and Casemiro.

The victory took Madrid back to within two points of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid, who beat Elche earlier on.

With Los Blancos facing fourth-placed Sevilla next week, and Barca hosting Atleti, the title race is firmly in the balance heading into the final few games of the campaign.

However, Varane's substitution was a cause for concern. Prior to facing Sevilla, Madrid will visit Stamford Bridge to play Chelsea on Wednesday, with their Champions League semi-final tie level at 1-1 after a tightly contested first leg.

Zidane is hopeful Varane's issue will not keep him out for long.

"I do not know, we have to wait," he told reporters. "He has told me that it is a small thing. I hope that is the case."

Madrid attempted 13 shots in the opening 45 minutes against Osasuna, more than they have managed in any other first half of a game this season in all competitions, though it took them until the 76th minute to find an opening – Isco's corner headed in by Militao for the centre-back's first LaLiga goal.

Casemiro's inadvertent finish subsequently put Madrid 2-0 up with 10 minutes remaining, and Zidane was pleased with the patience his team showed to make it 11 successive home wins against Osasuna in LaLiga – having last dropped points in this fixture when held 1-1 in December 2005.

"Happy with today's game, the three points. I am happy for the effort my players have made," Zidane added.

"In the first half we had four or five chances and we didn't score, it's a bit frustrating for them. At half-time I said [a goal] was going to arrive. With patience and with play.

"I was very happy for them, they are suffering there and when they score, you know it is a liberation."

Kylian Mbappe should be fit to face Manchester City in the Champions League semi-final second leg, Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino says.

The France star sat out the 2-1 Ligue 1 win over Lens on Saturday after sustaining a calf injury in the first-leg loss to Pep Guardiola's side this week.

In his absence, Neymar and Marquinhos secured a narrow win for the champions to put pressure back on title rivals Lille and give PSG a morale boost ahead of game against City on Tuesday.

Pochettino could offer no guarantees over Mbappe's availability after the match, but he hopes to have the forward at his disposal.

"I'm optimistic for Kylian," Pochettino told reporters. "We assess him day by day. I think he'll be able to play."

The win moved PSG two points clear at the top of the table, with three games remaining, ahead of Lille's clash with Nice.

Pochettino admired his players' battling qualities as they held off European-chasing Lens, who got a goal back through Ignatius Ganago with half an hour remaining.

"It was a very difficult match. Lens play really good football. I really like their game – we suffered," Pochettino said.

"We deserved to win. We had to work hard to get the victory.

"We'll see tomorrow the state of the players' condition. The calendar is crazy, especially in these circumstances. We'll wait until the last moment to make the best decision."

Pochettino admitted it had been tough to recover from their defeat to City, particularly after an impressive first-half performance.

They had nine shots to City's four in the opening 45 minutes and deservedly led through Marquinhos' header, but second-half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez put the visitors in the driving seat.

Given that disappointment, Pochettino was thrilled with the level of fitness and attitude displayed against Lens.

"I liked my team's character," he said. "I didn't see my team tired in the second half. They looked good physically.

"The night after City was difficult. Against [City], we played our best 45 minutes of the past four months. It wasn't easy."

Pep Guardiola conceded Manchester City can get ready to pop the champagne corks, with their third Premier League title in four seasons "already there" after a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.

City are one victory away from an unassailable lead and could be champions by the end of the weekend if Liverpool beat Manchester United on Sunday.

Guardiola does not care if his team are crowned without being on the field, telling a post-match news conference he simply wanted the title "as soon as possible" after second half goals from Sergio Aguero and Ferran Torres dispatched Palace.

"We can start to think about putting it in the fridge. Not yet, but we can put it in the fridge," he told BT Sport, before discussing his football-watching plans for Sunday – juggling preparation for Tuesday's Champions League semi-final showdown against Paris Saint Germain with keeping an eye on events at Old Trafford.

"It's [about] PSG right now. We start to see the game we played there [a 2-1 win on Wednesday] and what we have to do, but I will take a look [at United v Liverpool], yeah.

"The Premier League is already there, it is in our hands. We need one more victory or two points

"Now there is a game where we need to give absolutely everything to reach the final."

Aguero has been a marginal figure during his final season at City, grappling with form and fitness issues.

But his opening strike at Palace - a fabulous touch and half-volleyed finish from Benjamin Mendy's low cross – showed the value he could still have over the closing weeks of his City career.

"I'm incredibly delighted he is back. He was many, many times injured," Guardiola told reporters.

"In the last weeks he trained really well and he is another weapon that we have on Tuesday for our semi-final."

 

Aguero is now one behind Wayne Rooney's single-club record of 183 Premier League goals and Guardiola paid a glowing tribute to the 32-year-old, who is City's all-time leading goalscorer.

"He's an absolutely top legend, extraordinary, the most humble and nicest human being. That is not easy to find," he said.

"That's why I love him as a man. Another player in his situation, he could create conflict, he would create a difficult situation.

"When one guy is beloved, like he is by all our fans, it is not just for the scoring 1,000 million goals, that is the truth. It is because he has something that the people realise, that you cannot hide away, as a person.

"This season, we took a decision, a difficult one - one of the toughest ones I took, especially because he was injured a long time. This club, next season need to make another step and maintain this level for a longer time.

"But what he has done in this club remains, will remain forever and we want to finish the best way as possible.

"He's going to help us in the Champions League [and] is going to help us in the Premier League to finish it."

Sergio Aguero reminded Pep Guardiola that he is "always ready" for action, even as his Manchester City career winds down.

Knee and hamstring problems on the back of meniscus surgery last June have hindered Aguero during his 10th and final season at the Etihad Stadium.

However, the Argentina striker produced some of his vintage best on Saturday, taking a single touch to control Benjamin Mendy's cross before netting a blistering half-volley to open the scoring in City's 2-0 win at Crystal Palace.

The result means Guardiola's side are within two points of the Premier League title and their status as champions will be confirmed if Liverpool beat Manchester United on Sunday.

"Yeah, finally I could play so I am so happy," Aguero told BT Sport.

"All the time not playing 90 minutes… the goal is good. Maybe we can win the Premier League tomorrow.

"Always Mendy tries to pass to me. [That was] the only one inside the box, I needed one touch or two touches – that is my show.

"Finally I got the goal, I am happy for that."

It was only Aguero's second Premier League goal of the campaign and first from open play.

He was only starting due to Guardiola's decision to make eight changes to the side that beat Paris Saint-Germain in midweek, with City defending a 2-1 advantage back in Manchester on Tuesday.

Aguero, whose 182 Premier League goals for City overall is only one shy of Wayne Rooney's single-club record of 183 set at Manchester United, believes he can still be the man for the big occasion before his contract expires next month.

"Always I'm ready. Like I said before, I'm feeling good, my knee is so good," he said.

"I just wait for the opportunity to play like today. If on Tuesday, I don't play, it doesn't matter - I want to be with my team-mates.

"Every player wants to play, but we'll see."

Kylian Mbappe will miss Paris Saint-Germain's game against Lens on Saturday due to a calf injury that could also rule him out of the Champions League trip to Manchester City.

Mbappe played the full game as PSG lost 2-1 to the Premier League leaders in the first leg of the semi-final on Wednesday.

However, the France international – who did not have a shot against City, though he did create four chances – is not fit to feature against Lens in Ligue 1, denying him the chance to add to his tally of 25 goals in the competition this season.

PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino was vague in his response when asked about the chances of Mbappe returning in time to play at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

"Kylian has a problem with his right calf," Pochettino told the media. "We hope it is not serious and that he can be back with us as soon as possible.

"He is an important player for us and when you don’t have a key player, it always has an impact. But we have players in the squad who can do well and fill in for him.

"This will get us close to the victory that we want, which is the most important thing."

PSG led 1-0 at half-time against City, captain Marquinhos heading them in front in the 15th minute at Parc des Princes. However, Pep Guardiola's side hit back impressively after the break, turning the game around thanks to goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez.

Despite the disappointing result, Pochettino insists the mood within the squad remains positive - and made clear the immediate focus is on the Ligue 1 title race, rather than the return meeting with City.

"After losing in the Champions League, the players want to be competing again to get over that bad feeling," Pochettino said.

"The players are doing well. We lost the first leg but are motivated and convinced that we can turn it around.

"With all respect to Manchester City, we will go there to play the game. The mood is good; we are motivated for the game tomorrow, which is the most important one."

Asked about the tactical approach for the second leg, he replied: "We want to reaffirm the positive things that we did in the first leg – and there were many of them. I think we have to analyse that.

"We did very well in the first half and were superior to City. We were in the second half as well, but after conceding two goals, which were tough blows for us to take, plus the sending off [of Idrissa Gueye], meant that we played with less players.

"The team remained mentally strong against a very good Manchester City team. In terms of tactics, we will be ready for a battle."

Dani Carvajal has suffered another injury setback just three games into his comeback, with the Real Madrid defender reportedly set to miss the rest of the season.

Carvajal was out for two months earlier this year due to a hamstring issue but had returned to action on April 21, coming on as a second-half substitute in a 3-0 win at Cadiz.

The Spain international played 68 minutes in the 0-0 draw with Real Betis last weekend, while he was on the field for 77 minutes in Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Chelsea.

However, Madrid have announced he sustained an injury to a muscle in his right hamstring, though did not issue a timeframe for his potential return.

"Following the tests carried out today on our player Dani Carvajal by the Real Madrid medical department, he has been diagnosed with an injury to the semimembranosus muscle in his right leg. His recovery will be monitored," a short statement from the club read.

Several Spanish media outlets have suggested Carvajal will miss Madrid's crucial LaLiga run-in as they aim to defend their title.

Zinedine Zidane's squad have five games remaining in the domestic campaign, as well as the return fixture against Chelsea to come at Stamford Bridge next week.

If they manage to progress at the expense of the Blues in the Champions League, the 2021 final takes place in Istanbul on May 29.

Carvajal has made 15 appearances in all competitions in the 2020-21 season; Lucas Vazquez had previously filled in for his compatriot in defence but a knee ligament injury ended his season early.

However, there was some positive news on the injury front for Zidane on Thursday as Sergio Ramos returned to training.

The centre-back has not featured for Madrid since the 3-1 Champions League win over Atalanta in the second leg of the last-16 tie on March 16.

Ramos did make three appearances for Spain after that fixture, returning to his club with a calf injury. He also tested positive for coronavirus this month, but Los Blancos' posted footage on social media of the 35-year-old working with his team-mates ahead of this weekend's game against Osasuna.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe left Fabio Capello cold with their performances for Paris Saint-Germain against Manchester City.

Italian coaching great Capello sees little prospect of a PSG comeback in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final, after City snatched a 2-1 win at Parc des Princes.

The Ligue 1 giants took a 15th-minute lead through captain Marquinhos, but Kevin De Bruyne's cross bounced beyond Keylor Navas and into the corner just after the hour mark to put City level.

The PSG defensive wall then cracked to allow Riyad Mahrez to score from a free-kick seven minutes later.

Neymar had two shots in the first 15 minutes, which both hit the target, but Mbappe did not have a single goal attempt.

Neither reached the heights they are capable of scaling, leading former Milan and Real Madrid boss Capello to wonder why they were so underwhelming.

"There were two of the favourites to win the Ballon d'Or on the pitch and they weren't filled with enthusiasm," Capello told Sky Sport Italia.

"We thought we were going to see fireworks and instead they just showed a lot of tension towards the opponent. I expected more from Mbappe and Neymar.

"The Champions League is not only about beauty, but it is also a competition in which small incidents count for a lot.

"City won with two strokes of luck. Firstly, the very serious error by Navas on De Bruyne's cross, then the bad luck PSG had on the second goal with the ball passing right through the hole in the wall."

The outcome meant PSG lost after leading at half-time in the Champions League for the first time since March 2001, when they were beaten 4-3 by Deportivo La Coruna in an epic game.

PSG were 3-0 in front early in the second half of that game but folded.

Twenty years on from that match, PSG will hope that City's lead in their last-four tie can be whittled away in the second leg next Tuesday.

Yet Capello reasoned that PSG "are unlikely to overturn" their deficit against Pep Guardiola's team, adding: "When City play calmly, they are difficult to beat."

Old Trafford will not bring Roma many happy memories when they return for their Europa League semi-final first leg against Manchester United on Thursday.

The Giallorossi first made the trip to Manchester in April 2007, having won the home leg of their Champions League last-eight tie.

That had been the sides' first ever meeting and it remains Roma's sole win in six attempts. Three times they have lost at United and the pick of those matches, in 2006-07, saw a remarkable 7-1 humbling.

With the use of Opta data, we look back on that evening and what it meant for those involved.
 

Roma's ruins

This was a major European quarter-final and Roma were set to be far from straightforward opposition for United.

The 2-1 win for the hosts at the Stadio Olimpico meant the Red Devils would have to overturn a first-leg deficit in a continental knockout tie for the first time since 1984 (excluding qualifiers). They certainly did that.

Roma actually had a greater share of possession at Old Trafford (53.7 per cent) and only attempted two shots fewer than United, but Francesco Totti squandered 10 of their 21. He at least teed up Daniele De Rossi for an exquisite consolation.

Although the Giallorossi have since also lost 7-1 to Bayern Munich in 2014 and 6-1 to Barcelona in 2015, they had not been beaten by more than four goals in Europe prior to this match.

For United, it was their biggest European win since 1968 when Waterford United were defeated by the same scoreline. It still fell some way short of their record against foreign opposition, a 10-0 1956 demolition of Anderlecht.

Ronaldo's rise

In a breakout season, this was a breakout performance from Cristiano Ronaldo.

The winger – he was definitely still a winger at that stage – had previously failed to score in his 26 appearances in Europe's premier club competition, although he impressed in Rome in the first leg.

Goals later in the second leg changed the course of Ronaldo's Champions League career, but his early work would be alien to anyone who had only seen the superstar in action for Real Madrid or Juventus in recent seasons, prowling the final third.

As so often at that time, Ronaldo's speed and skill was key in leading United's breaks from deep. He completed eight of nine attempted dribbles in this match and a pass inside from the right found Michael Carrick for the opener.

The United number seven was involved in the third goal for Wayne Rooney, too, driving United forward again, and then put Alex Ferguson's side out of sight.

More clinical than Totti with his own 10 attempts, Ronaldo raced up the right once more to drill in the fourth before half-time, breaking his Champions League duck with the first of a record 134 goals at this level and 67 in knockout matches to date.

He never looked back and the fifth goal was his, too, toeing in Ryan Giggs' low centre to reach 20 for a season for the very first time.

Ronaldo has made that mark in every subsequent campaign and there have since been a further 36 Champions League outings with two or more goals.

Smith's swansong

As Ronaldo took centre stage, there was a final flourish for a previous quarter-final scorer. Alan Smith, a star of Leeds United's 2000-01 run, was handed a rare start.

Smith's time at Old Trafford had not panned out as planned following a controversial move, his mediocre form in front of goal contributing to Ferguson's belief the England striker would be better suited to a battling midfield role.

It was there that he suffered a career-altering leg break against Liverpool in February 2006.

As Ruud van Nistelrooy left for Madrid at the end of that season, Ferguson revealed the recovering Smith was "a player we intend to convert back to centre-forward after a spell in the midfield". But the ex-Leeds favourite found himself firmly behind Rooney, Louis Saha, Henrik Larsson and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the pecking order.

By the time Smith was named in the XI – in place of now United manager Solskjaer – against Roma, he had gone 507 days without a goal.

That drought ended with a beautiful right-footed finish, a reminder of what Smith once was, to put United two up, yet this was merely a last hurrah.

Although there was a first Premier League title and an FA Cup final appearance before the end of the campaign, there were no further goals and Smith then left for Newcastle United, where he failed to score once.

When the one-time £7million man finally found the net again, playing for MK Dons in League One in April 2012, 1,838 days had passed since that special Roma strike.

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