Neymar has issued a rallying call to Paris Saint-Germain ahead of their Champions League semi-final showdown with Manchester City, claiming he is ready to "die on the pitch".

PSG slipped to a 2-1 defeat in last week's first leg at Parc des Princes, Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez overturning Marquinhos' first-half opener.

An impressive opening to the contest from Mauricio Pochettino's men subsided, with City exerting almost complete control on proceedings after the interval.

Neymar cut an increasingly isolated figure, while attacking partner Kylian Mbappe failed to attempt a single shot after starting a match for the first time in his Champions League career.

The world's most expensive player is aware of the tall task that awaits at the Etihad Stadium, although he has not given up hope of last season's beaten finalists returning to the showpiece.

"We have a very difficult match against Manchester City, but we have to believe, no matter what the stats or our percentage chance of winning is," Neymar told PSG's in-house channel.

"I think that every Parisian has to believe in us. I'll be the first to do so.

"I'm on the front line and I'll be the first warrior to go into battle for the team.

"I'm going to give the best of myself and I'll do everything I can to qualify, whatever happens."

With a chuckle, he added: "Even if I have to die on the pitch."

The stats Neymar alludes to certainly do not make for comfortable reading for those of a PSG persuasion.

There have been 47 previous instances of English clubs winning the first leg of Champions League or European Cup tie away from home. On each occasion, they have progressed.

City have won each of their past six Champions League matches and have 10 out of 11 victories this season, with a goalless draw at Porto the only blemish. A seventh win would edge Pep Guardiola's men ahead of Manchester United (1965-66), Leeds United (1969-70) and Arsenal (2005) as the outright English record holders for the longest winning run in Europe's premier club tournament.

PSG have played City four times in European competitions and are yet to beat the Manchester side.

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."

Erling Haaland and Romelu Lukaku appear to be the top forwards on English clubs' shopping lists this off-season.

But Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski may enter the frame amid rumours about his future.

Manchester City and Chelsea are known to be eager to bolster their attacking options and have the funds to finance a major move.

 

TOP STORY – ENGLAND ON LEWANDOWSKI'S RADAR

SportBild reports that Robert Lewandowski's likely next destination will be the English Premier League, if Bayern Munich opt to sell their Polish forward.

The report claims that Lewandowski's agent Pini Zahavi is trying to put pressure on Bayern for a lucrative contract extension or to sell him to one of England's financially powerful clubs.

Lewandowski still has two years to run on his Bayern contract and the Bavarians are believed to not be ready to negotiate.

 

ROUND-UP

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Romelu Lukaku is not planning to leave Inter amid interest from Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Barcelona, pointing to comments he made following the club's Serie A title triumph on Sunday.

- Romano also claims that Watford, who have won promotion to the Premier League, have begun talks with Inter's Ashley Young who may be available as a free agent.

- Marca reports that PSG are increasingly concerned that Neymar will not sign a contract extension with the club amid talk of a Barcelona move.

- Celtic defender Kristoffer Ajer is being tracked by Premier League club Newcastle United, claims the Daily Record.

- Tottenham are interested in Brazilian teenager Rodrigo Varanda who is currently with Corinthians, says The Sun.

Will Lionel Messi stay or leave?

The superstar Barcelona captain is set to become a free agent, though the LaLiga giants are determined to re-sign Messi.

Paris Saint-Germain are interested but Messi could reportedly extend his Camp Nou career.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI SET FOR BARCA STAY?

Lionel Messi is closer to staying at Barcelona than joining Paris Saint-Germain, according to L'Equipe.

Messi's future has dominated headlines, with his contract due to expire at season's end amid interest from Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.

Barca are keen to re-sign Messi, who is encouraged by the Copa del Rey triumph and Joan Laporta's plans, despite an offer from PSG.

 

ROUND-UP

Barca have reached out to PSG regarding a possible reunion with Neymar, however, RAC1 says the Ligue 1 holders are not willing to sell the Brazilian superstar.

Everton are plotting a bid for soon-to-be free agent and City star Sergio Aguero, reports the Daily Star. Aguero will leave the Etihad Stadium on a free transfer and the forward has been linked with Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter and Tottenham.

- Fabrizio Romano says Leicester City are working on a deal to sign Lille star Boubakary Soumare, who has previously been linked with Manchester United, Tottenham, Inter and Napoli.

- The Sun claims Borussia Dortmund have joined United and PSG in the battle sign Brighton and Hove Albion defender Ben White.

- Sky Sport Italia claims Milan ultras met with star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and demanded he sits out the fixture against Serie A rivals Juventus if he does not renew his contract. Donnarumma is set to become a free agent and he is yet to re-sign amid reports he is in talks with Juve. The Italy international has also been linked with United, Chelsea and PSG.

United are prepared to sell Paul Pogba if he does not commit to a new contract, according to The Sun. Juve and Real Madrid are reportedly eyeing the French star. It comes as The Sun also claims United are not willing to part ways with Donny van de Beek following a difficult first season at Old Trafford.

Paris Saint-Germain moved back to the top of Ligue 1 thanks to a battling 2-1 win over Lens at Parc des Princes on Saturday.

Neymar scored the opener and crossed for Marquinhos to head in the champions' second as they responded well to their 2-1 home loss to Manchester City in the Champions League this week.

With Kylian Mbappe missing through injury and Marco Verratti, Angel Di Maria and Ander Herrera starting on the bench, PSG were made to work hard for a result that lifted them back above Lille at the summit, at the very least for a few hours.

Ignatius Ganago pulled a goal back for European hopefuls Lens, but Mauricio Pochettino's men held firm for a morale-boosting win ahead of their second-leg clash with City in England next Tuesday.

PSG, who lost right-back Colin Dagba to injury before the 20-minute mark, had few early chances despite their dominance, although Danilo Pereira tested Wuilker Farinez with a powerful header that was well saved by the Lens keeper.

Lens had done well to keep Neymar quiet but gifted him the opener 32 minutes in, the Brazil star slotting home confidently after Julian Draxler had pinched possession from Facundo Medina on the edge of the box.

Pablo Sarabia should have scored a second after Neymar's header from a fine Marquinhos pass, but Farinez produced a superb one-handed stop, and Lens could have snatched an equaliser before half-time had Jonathan Clauss and Clement Michelin shown more composure inside the box.

Lens began the second half well but PSG doubled their lead just before the hour mark, Marquinhos rising unchallenged to head in Neymar's corner from the right.

However, the visitors halved the deficit barely two minutes later, Ganago hooking the ball through Navas' legs after Arnaud Kalimuendo sliced an attempted overhead kick.

Neymar curled a free-kick off the right post, seemingly via the fingertips of Farinez, and Mauro Icardi saw a goal disallowed for a Marco Verratti offside, but Lens could not capitalise on those moments of fortune.

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."

Neymar's future at Paris Saint-Germain remains strangely undecided.

The 29-year-old Brazilian has said he is happy in Paris but speculation continues to bubble away.

Neymar is out of contract in 2022 and is reportedly discussing a renewal with PSG until 2026.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR TEMPTED BY BARCELONA RETURN

Neymar continues to flirt privately with a return to Barcelona, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Publicly, the Brazil star has declared he is happy with PSG but in no rush to re-sign, yet there are behind-the-scenes rumblings, potentially part of contract manoeuvring.

Neymar is reportedly obsessed with playing alongside Lionel Messi again at Camp Nou and continues to keep that option open.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are still in the market for a right-winger with Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho top of their list, according to 90 Min.

- The Sun reports that Chelsea are preparing to launch a £90million-plus offer to bring Romelu Lukaku back to the club from Inter.

- Chelsea are also open to offers for forward Tammy Abraham this off-season, with an asking price of £40m, claims The Telegraph.

- Arsenal wants to sign Norwich City full-back Max Aarons as a replacement for Hector Bellerin, whom they are prepared to offload, reports 90 Min.

- Juventus' Turkish defender Merih Demiral is in the sights of Everton, according to Calciomercato.

- AS claims that Atletico Madrid may ask Juventus to swap Paulo Dybala as compensation to permanently sign on-loan forward Alvaro Morata.

Neymar said "we lost the battle but the war continues" as the Paris Saint-Germain superstar keeps the faith with the club's Champions League hopes in the balance.

Manchester City seized control of the semi-final tie thanks to Wednesday's 2-1 victory in Paris, where Pep Guardiola's visitors produced a sensational second-half turnaround against PSG.

PSG captain Marquinhos opened the scoring in the 15th minute as last season's runners-up outplayed City in the opening half in the French capital.

But Kevin De Bruyne's awkward cross-cum-shot found the back of the net just past the hour-mark and Riyad Mahrez's free-kick put City ahead seven minutes later, while PSG ended the match with 10 men following Idrissa Gueye's 77th-minute red card.

As PSG face an uphill task ahead of their return leg in Manchester, Neymar reacted to the result via social media.

"We lost the battle but the war continues," Neymar wrote in a Twitter post post-match. "I believe in my team.

"I believe that we can be better than we were. ALLEZ PARIS. One per cent chance 99 per cent faith."

Neymar has not scored in his last six games in the knockout stages of the Champions League, with his last goal outside the group stage coming against Borussia Dortmund in 2019-20.

The midweek collapse was the first time PSG suffered Champions League defeat when leading at half-time since 2001 – against Deportivo La Coruna.

PSG are winless in their four European games against City (D2 L2), only facing Juventus (eight) on more occasions without ever winning in their history.

Kylian Mbappe turned towards the bench. A wry grin was accompanied by what looked like a knowing nod, one that portrayed supreme confidence.

Had you been Joao Cancelo and seen such a display of composure from a player as deadly as Mbappe ahead of a Champions League semi-final, you might have been tempted to ask for an immediate substitution.

While much of the pre-match build-up from the PSG perspective focused on the Frenchman and his illustrious strike partner Neymar, in the end their magic was in short supply in Paris as Manchester City seemingly put one foot in next month's final.

City winning 2-1 wouldn't have been backed by many punters on the back of a particularly gripping first half at the end of which PSG arguably should've been more than 1-0 to the good.

There was a key pattern to the first half established within two minutes as PSG showed the raw tenacity of their midfield. Rodri was robbed and a counter was sprung, leading to Neymar shooting at Ederson.

That relentlessness from the PSG central trio was essential to the hosts outcompeting their City counterparts in the first 45 minutes.

While Mbappe and Neymar had been the centre of attention, it was their supporting case who were shining.

Mauricio Pochettino's set-up highlighted the respect held for Pep Guardiola and City, as PSG's shape resembled two banks of four designed to snuff out the spaces that the likes of Kevin De Bruyne enjoy exploiting.

But on top of that, PSG almost constantly had Mbappe and Neymar up as a central attacking duo. Pochettino was well aware that counter-attacking teams led by ball-carriers have been a problem for City.

Neymar's trickery at times in the first half certainly didn't make life easier for City. He left a couple of defenders in knots when testing Ederson in the 13th minute, before then pulling off a clever nutmeg on De Bruyne.

But for the most part PSG's star duo took something of a backseat.

Idrissa Gueye, Leandro Paredes and Marco Verratti were especially effective as they hounded after the City midfield, while the threat of counter-attacks meant City's full-backs played withdrawn roles.

While they would normally create overloads out wide, there was little sign of that as Cancelo and Kyle Walker were forced to sit deep.

Marquinhos' wonderful header was a just reward for PSG's excellent first-half display and might have had some pointing out: 'Hey, there's more to PSG than Mbappe and Neymar!'

But the tables turned in the second half, and dramatically so.

With the full-backs pushed higher and the wide midfielders coming in a little narrower, City looked to suffocate PSG and keep them penned into their own half as much as possible.

The intensity adopted by the likes of Verratti, Paredes and Gueye was seemingly unsustainable and the out-ball to Mbappe was cut out instantly almost every time, while Neymar became a passenger.

The Brazilian's most significant movement after the break was to sprint 30 metres to ask the referee to send De Bruyne off. He was unsuccessful.

City's start to the second half saw them well on top and that remained the status quo virtually until full-time, as they appeared in less of a rush and instead returned to their ideals relating to ball retention.

The equaliser certainly had a hint of fortune about it as De Bruyne's delivery from deep went all the way in, but it was a consequence of City's unrelenting pressure.

Their second, not too long after, will undoubtedly have Pochettino asking questions of his players, with Riyad Mahrez's free-kick somehow allowed to squeeze through a feeble wall.

Gueye's straight red then helped maintain City's lead, but it was Guardiola's changes at the interval – getting City back on the front foot and in control – that proved pivotal.

The Catalan has frequently in the past been accused of getting in his own way, overcomplicating things and getting caught out, especially in this competition.

Not here, though. No, he went back to basics when their situation was looking a little dicey and it proved a masterstroke.

Neymar reiterated that "everything is almost settled" with regards to his contract renewal at Paris Saint-Germain.

The Brazil superstar moved to the Parc des Princes for an eye-watering €220million fee from Barcelona in 2017, a sum that comfortably smashed the world transfer record.

However, for long periods Neymar was linked with a move back to LaLiga either with Barca or Clasico rivals Real Madrid, amid suggestions he was struggling to settle in the French capital.

Injury woes at key times often coincided with question marks over his level of commitment to the cause, but his influential performances in helping PSG to last season's Champions League final where they lost to Bayern Munich, and in helping to knock out the same opponents in this term's quarter-finals, have largely dispelled those suggestions.

In recent months it has been heavily suggested Neymar is going to sign a new contract with his present deal due to expire next season.

Neymar confirmed such an extension is almost complete to prolong a stay at a club where he feels at home.

"We are in discussion with PSG. There is no rush. Everything is almost settled," Neymar told RMC. 

"I feel at home, comfortable, I feel really very happy at Paris Saint-Germain. 

"Regarding the supporters, what I expect the most is that they are back at the stadium so that we can feel them close to us, to support us , and that they are there to cheer us on all the players in every game."

Neymar has six goals and three assists to his name from 14 Ligue 1 appearances this term, slightly lower than an expected goals rate of 10.18 and expected assists of 3.55.

He has also created 38 chances, nine of which are Opta-defined big chances, and Neymar thinks he is in the best form of his PSG tenure.

"I think so. I make sure that always the best Neymar is on the pitch," he added.

"And to be sure that with Neymar on the pitch, PSG will have a great chance of coming out on top of the match."

Neymar believes he and Kylian Mbappe have formed the best duo in world football at Paris Saint-Germain.

Mbappe and Neymar are expected to start when PSG host Manchester City in the first leg of their huge Champions League semi-final tie on Wednesday.

The French champions were beaten by Bayern Munich in the final of last season's competition and are looking to become the ninth team to reach back-to-back finals.

Neymar arrived from Barcelona in 2017, the same summer when Mbappe was brought in from Monaco – with the two deals remaining the most expensive transfers in football history.

The two world-class forwards are at different stages of their careers and both are out of contract in 2022.

Neymar hopes they can continue their partnership at PSG, which he believes is making history, for the foreseeable future.

"With Kylian Mbappe, our relationship has always been very good since his arrival," Neymar said to RMC.

"We have been playing together for four years now and making history. He is a very high level player with whom I take a lot of fun playing. 

"I hope we will continue to play together for many years to come because it's hard to find such a duo for sure. 

"I don't see a better duo than us in football."

City eliminated PSG in their only previous knockout tie meeting in European football, progressing 3-2 on aggregate in the Champions League quarter-final five years ago.

Neymar has either scored or assisted in each of his three appearances in a Champions League semi-final.

The Brazil forward has also had a direct hand in nine goals from his 12 matches against English sides in the competition (five goals and four assists).

He thinks PSG, now managed by Mauricio Pochettino after the sacking of Thomas Tuchel, are playing at their highest level since he signed for the club.

"Absolutely," he said. "We are a team that are much more prepared and we know what to do. 

"Last year we went to the final, we hope to get there again. 

"I'm calm, I have complete confidence in my team, in my team-mates - we will get there."

Paris Saint-Germain's Neymar wants Kylian Mbappe to "break all the records possible" as he hailed his star team-mate ahead of the Champions League semi-final against Manchester City.

Neymar and Mbappe are central to PSG's Champions League hopes this season, with last year's runners-up preparing to face Pep Guardiola's City in the semis on Wednesday.

Mbappe – who has been linked with LaLiga giants Real Madrid – has starred since joining PSG from Monaco in 2018, and the latter hopes they keep coming. 

Neymar spoke of his admiration for France forward Mbappe on the eve of the opening leg against Premier League leaders City in Paris.

"We have a great friendship. He is a great player and he has been showing that year after year," said Neymar.

"I hope he keeps scoring goals and playing well because that is how he helps us on the pitch. Of course, I am always behind him.

"I want him to break all the records possible. He is a fantastic person. I hope I can play well again and that PSG come out victorious."

Neymar, who moved to PSG from Barcelona for a world-record €222million fee in 2017, is under contract through next year but would like to continue playing alongside Mbappe at Parc des Princes in the future. 

More immediately, the pair will be focused on a return to the Champions League final, where they fell 1-0 to Bayern Munich in 2020.

Mbappe had returned from an ankle injury less than two weeks before the final, and he has also been a subject of injury concern this week. 

But PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino said Tuesday that Mbappe has recovered from the thigh injury that forced him to leave Saturday's Ligue 1 win over Metz.

PSG star Neymar has either scored (three) or assisted (one) in each of his previous three Champions League semi-final appearances, while he has had a direct hand in nine goals in his 12 matches against English sides in the competition (five goals and assists).

Pep Guardiola says the task of trying to stop Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar is enough to keep him awake at night.

Manchester City are away to PSG in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final tie on Wednesday, neither side having won the famous trophy before.

Guardiola had left Barcelona by the time Neymar arrived at Camp Nou in 2013, the forward eventually forming a historic front three with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Such is the quality of Neymar, the City boss feels his former club would have won many more Champions League crowns had the Brazil talisman not moved to PSG in 2017.

Guardiola feels there is only so much that can be done against world-class opponents like Neymar and Kylian Mbappe and wants City to impose themselves on the game rather than set out just to stop PSG.

"Always unbelievable, the quality of these players they have," Guardiola said. "Defensive strategies [to stop them] don’t work. They are too good.

"I try to sleep well last night and I slept when I was not thinking about their players like that!

"They are incredible players, the quality they have, the way they play. We will try and stop them by defending together as a team and playing well as a team.

"We are going to concede counter-attacks, they have a lot of weapons.

"We will have to adjust something of course when you play against these players like we did against Tottenham, like we will against Wilfried Zaha [of Crystal Palace] in the next game.

"But at the same time, it wouldn't make any sense to not be who we are when we are arriving on this stage for just the second time in our history.

"I am pretty sure we will try to be ourselves and get the result we will need for the second leg. The best balance is to have the ball. If you have the ball all the time, the balance is there.

"We will concede counter-attacks, it's impossible [not to]. If you defend so deep, Neymar, Mbappe, Angel Di Maria, Marco Verratti, Marquinhos, they have a lot of weapons.

"They are used to playing teams who defend 90 minutes and they find a way. That is not the best way to defend against the team who have everything, it's best to impose your game like we have for five years."

Neymar has either scored (three) or assisted (one) in each of his previous three Champions League semi-final appearances.

The forward has also had a direct hand in nine goals in his 12 matches against English sides in the competition (five goals, four assists).

Guardiola was in awe of Neymar from the first time he saw him playing for Santos.

The former Barca and Bayern Munich boss added: "I remember when I showed clips of Santos, I remember I said, 'This is the king of Santos', and the players' mouths were open saying, 'Oh my god, what a player'.

"He's a joy to watch as a spectator, the personality, he has Brazil on his shoulders.

"I'm sure if Neymar had a longer stay in Barcelona they would win two or three Champions Leagues more. Those three were unstoppable, the best three I saw up front in my life.

"He decided to go to Paris, not a bad decision, a nice city and nice club. I want him to have stability, no injuries. I'm a big admirer because he helped to make football better. It's a pleasure to play a semi final against PSG."

Asked about Mbappe, Guardiola replied: "A young player, he will have the world of football ahead of him.

"Already a French champion, World Cup. Quite similar to Erling Haaland in terms of, 'Wow', how many goals, pace.

"Looks like a nice guy. Benjamin Mendy is his friend, says he's a nice guy. We're going to try to beat them, all of them."

Guardiola was visibly enthused on the pitch on Sunday after leading City to a fourth consecutive EFL Cup triumph with a 1-0 win in the final against Tottenham.

"Every time you get older you realise it's difficult to win titles," he explained.

"If you start the next season telling me I have to win one title, it doesn't matter which one, I say it's so difficult to do.

"The Carabao isn't the most important one but it is so nice to win it."

PSG, who were managed by Thomas Tuchel when they lost last year's Champions League final to Bayern Munich, are winless in their previous three matches with City in European competition (D2 L1).

City are playing in only the fourth semi-final in their European history after the Cup Winners' Cup in 1969-70 and 1970-71, and the 2015-16 Champions League.

Ahead of the tie, PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino described City as "one of the greatest teams in the world" and said he believes they are led by the best coach in the game in Guardiola.

Neymar, meanwhile, insists he feels "much better" at PSG than he did previously and has hit back at critics who accused him of lacking professionalism.

PSG are looking to become the the ninth side to reach back-to-back finals, but Guardiola has beaten Pochettino in 10 of their previous 18 meetings, with five draws and only three defeats.

Neymar insists he feels "much better" at Paris Saint-Germain than he did previously and has hit back at critics who accused him of lacking professionalism.

The Brazil star moved to PSG from Barcelona in 2017 for a fee of €222million, shattering the previous world transfer record.

He struggled to settle in the French capital and was persistently linked with a move back to Spain to either Barca or arch-rivals Real Madrid.

Injury problems at key moments and questions over his level of commitment towards the club added to an air of negativity around Neymar, but that has been largely dispelled in the past 18 months.

The 29-year-old was a star performer as PSG reached the Champions League final last August for the first time, where they lost to Bayern Munich, and he was similarly influential as they knocked out those same opponents in this season's quarter-finals.

It is now more widely expected that Neymar will sign an extension to his PSG contract, which expires next year, as he looks to build something of a legacy at Parc des Princes.

Although he would not discuss a possible new deal, Neymar did state on Tuesday that many things have changed for the better since his arrival four years ago.

"I spoke about this after the last game as well. I don't think I need to say more," he said when asked about his renewal.

"I have got time left on my contract here at PSG. We want to do what is best for everyone. I have already said that I am happy here and I feel much better than in the previous seasons.

"Since I arrived here, the club has improved. The club is more respected. When people talk about PSG now, they know it is among the four, five or six best teams across all the leagues.

"PSG are now getting the respect they deserve. It is our second consecutive year in the Champions Leagues semi-finals and last year, we were runners-up. This year, we are going to do everything to get our hands on the trophy.

"When I joined PSG, I said that our priority was always the Champions League and winning it and being amongst the best. We managed to reach the final last year for the first time in the club's history. Now, we are in the semi-finals.

"That means we have been improving and that is down to the people, the coaching staff and I think we have everything it takes to be champions. We are on the right path. The atmosphere is fantastic here.

"There are certainly aspects where I have improved during my time at PSG. I have also had some difficult moments in terms of settling in, and things that people know about. I think I have improved and things started to get better and better.

"I have always been very hard-working. I have always trained hard and been professional. I have never done anything not professional.

"Despite many people saying otherwise, I have always worked hard and stayed focused and I have been showing that on the pitch. When I am out there, I try to show what I am capable of and help my team."

PSG face Manchester City in the semi-final first leg on Wednesday, a team they have not beaten in their three previous meetings and who have won nine and drawn one of their 10 Champions League matches this season.

"It will certainly be a tough game," said Neymar. "It is the Champions League semi-final and there are no easy tams at this stage. Man City are a top team with real quality, just as Bayern were in the previous round. We are ready for this game and we will do everything to try to get through."

Neymar was a Champions League winner with Barca in 2015, scoring in the final against Juventus, and it was suggested that leading PSG to continental glory could see him stake a serious claim to win the Ballon d'Or this year.

However, Neymar responded: "That is not something I think about. I am focusing on the Champions League because that will make a big difference to my life and my career. If I look back and see that I have three or four Champions Leagues, that would be the most important thing."

It is business time in the Champions League as the 2020-21 semi-finals get under way with the first legs this week.

Chelsea visit Real Madrid, who have seen pre-match questions focus on their continued pursuit of the controversial European Super League.

In the other tie, Paris Saint-Germain are the only remaining outfit not to have signed up for the competition prior to its collapse, gaining favour with UEFA.

They have a tough ask against Manchester City, however, after Pep Guardiola's men collected their first piece of silverware this season in the EFL Cup final.

Using Opta data, we break down the two matches...

Real Madrid v Chelsea: Los Blancos yet to beat Blues or Tuchel

When English football fans consider their country's most-consistent representatives in the Champions League, Chelsea will not be the team that immediately springs to mind for most.

Yet this will be the Blues' eighth semi-final appearance at this stage of the competition, a record among Premier League sides, and they have every reason to feel positive about the Blues' chances here.

They have only lost the first leg in one of their previous seven Champions League semis and head into the tie in good shape domestically, with Thomas Tuchel inspiring a significant improvement in their fortunes since taking over in January.

The German was in charge of PSG as they lost in last season's final to Bayern Munich but boasts a strong record against Madrid, having faced them more often without losing in this competition than any other side (W1 D3). The only other coach to take them on as many times in the Champions League and not lose is Gerard Houllier (P4 W2 D2).

Further to that, Madrid's record against Chelsea is poor, as they've not won any of their three previous meetings. Los Blancos haven't faced any other side more often without winning in their entire history.

A key factor in Chelsea's run to the semis has been their solidity at the back, and Edouard Mendy has more than played his part.

The Frenchman has let in just two goals in his first nine Champions League matches; if he keeps a clean sheet on Tuesday, he will match the record set by ex-Madrid man Keylor Navas for fewest conceded in a goalkeeper's first 10 games.

Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester City: Pep back in the big time

If Madrid and Chelsea are vastly experienced at this level, the same is not exactly true of PSG and City. The Ligue 1 club are playing their third Champions League semi-final, while this is City's second.

Indeed, City have only progressed through one of their prior three semis in all European competitions, winning the Cup Winners' Cup on that occasion in 1970.

PSG are finally getting to grips with UEFA's premier club tournament, however, becoming only the third French team to reach the last four in consecutive seasons - after Saint-Etienne 1975-76 and Marseille 1990-91 in the European Cup - and bidding to be the ninth side to play back-to-back finals.

They will require a first win over City to get there, though, drawing two and losing the other of their previous three meetings. Only against Juventus (eight), Arsenal and Milan (both four) have PSG played more games without winning in their history.

And Guardiola, having finally returned to this stage, has the know-how his players might lack. This a record-equalling eighth Champions League semis appearance, level with Jose Mourinho.

Mauricio Pochettino, then Tottenham manager, eliminated Guardiola in their only past European clash two seasons ago at the quarter-final stage, although the Catalan coach has 10 career wins against the PSG boss.

Pochettino will rely heavily on Neymar, who has either scored (three) or assisted (one) in each of his previous three Champions League last-four outings, while Guardiola can turn to Kevin De Bruyne, with four goals and four assists across his past seven knockout appearances.

De Bruyne scored in both legs when City beat PSG in the 2015-16 quarter-finals and could join Neymar (four), Lionel Messi and Marcus Rashford (both three) in netting against the Parisians in three consecutive Champions League games.

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