What Man City must do to finish off PSG

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says his players must control their emotions and take the opportunity to make history when they face Paris St Germain in the Champions League semi-final second leg on Tuesday.

City hold a 2-1 lead after an impressive performance in Paris last week and Guardiola’s men are within touching distance of their first Champions League final.

Guardiola, who won the trophy twice as Barcelona coach, has urged his team to play with the same confidence that has helped them dominate the Premier League this season.

“We don’t want to miss this opportunity. I have the feeling we are going to do well,” Guardiola told his news conference.

“It’s the first time most of us are here together – I know what we’re playing for, in these games you don’t need much emotions – be calm and know what you have to do.

“They have to visualise they can do it. What we have to do is no different to what they’ve done in last seven months, go out there, play our game and win.”

PSG forward Kylian Mbappe is doubtful for the match at the Etihad Stadium having missed the weekend’s league win over Lens with a calf injury.

Video footage circulating on social media showed the French World Cup winner limping on his arrival in Manchester, but Guardiola has no doubts over Mbappe’s availability.

“He’s going to play. I’m looking forward to him playing,” Guardiola said. “For the football, for the game itself, hopefully he can play.”

Return of fans this season ‘not advisable’

Spain’s health minister has said it would not be advisable for spectators to attend La Liga games for the remainder of the season due to the continued threat of the coronavirus, dealing another blow to the league’s plans for fans to return.

Organising body La Liga had been hoping to welcome fans back to top-flight and second division matches in limited numbers from next weekend after national infection rates began to slow.

“I don’t think it would be the most advisable thing to do for what is left of the season,” minister Carolina Darias told a news conference in Oviedo on Monday.

She said Spain’s national infection rate was 229 people per 100,000 but added there was a huge range of rates between the 17 autonomous regions, with rates below 70 per 100,000 in some regions but up to 500 per 100,000 in others.

La Liga said in a statement it has requested autonomous regions to determine whether or not supporters can attend matches, and that its committee had approved the proposal in the knowledge that some clubs would not be able to have fans back.

The statement added that La Liga would try to convince the government to reconsider its stance, which it described as “discriminatory and incoherent”.

No crowds have been allowed at top-flight or second division matches since the pandemic first halted Spanish football in March 2020.

Limited numbers of spectators have been let in to other sporting events such as the Barcelona Open tennis tournament last month and the Madrid Open, which began last week.

FA launches inquiry into role of English clubs in Super League

England’s Football Association has launched a formal inquiry into the role played by Premier League clubs in the attempt to create a breakaway European Super League and the Premier League has said the clubs will be held to account.

Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal signed up to a new 12-team Super League led by Real Madrid’s president Florentino Perez.

But after 48 hours of intense protests and criticism, which continues to reverberate through English football, the Premier League clubs withdrew from the project last week.

“Last week, we started an official inquiry into the formation of the European Super League and the involvement of the six English clubs,” an FA spokesperson said on Monday.

“We wrote to all of the clubs to formally request all relevant information and evidence regarding their participation. Once we have the required information, we will consider what appropriate steps to take. Clearly what happened was unacceptable and could have caused great harm to clubs at every level of English football,” the spokesperson added.

The Premier League said it was also looking into the behaviour of the six clubs.

“We are determined to establish the truth of what happened and hold those clubs accountable for their decisions and actions,” it said in a statement.

The league added that it was tightening up its regulations to stop any future attempt at a breakaway structure.

A new “Owners’ Charter” will be introduced as part of the league’s governance — all club owners will be required to sign up “committing them to the core principles of the Premier League”.

“Breaches of these rules and the Charter will be subject to significant sanctions,” the league added.

The UK government has launched a review of the game to be headed by former sports minister Tracey Crouch and the Premier League said it was in talks with the government “to bring in appropriate legislation to protect football’s open pyramid, principles of sporting merit and the integrity of the football community”.

Manchester United fans on Sunday clashed with police and invaded the pitch before their scheduled Premier League match against Liverpool which was postponed as a result.

There have also been protests at Chelsea and Arsenal games since the Super League plan was announced.

“The fans have played a vital and impactful role in helping to stop the European Super League from happening, and we understand their frustrations,” the FA spokesperson said.

“However, we cannot condone the violent and criminal behaviour that took place before the scheduled Manchester United vs Liverpool match, which The FA is now investigating.”

The Premier League urged any protests to remain peaceful.

“We are committed to maintaining close dialogue with supporters and their representatives, as we work with The FA and Government to identify solutions, but ask that all protests are peaceful,” it said.

“The actions of a minority of those present at Old Trafford on Sunday have no justification and will be investigated by the Premier League and The FA as well as by the Greater Manchester Police.

“The actions of a few clubs cannot be allowed to create such division and disruption.”

The Super League argued it would increase revenues to the top clubs and allow them to distribute more money to the rest of the game.

However, the sport’s governing bodies, other teams and fan organisations say it would increase the power and wealth of the elite clubs and the closed structure of the league goes against European football’s long-standing model.

Unlike Europe’s elite Champions League competition, where teams have to qualify through their domestic leagues, the founding Super League teams would guarantee themselves a place in the new competition every year.

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