PSG host Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday night in the UEFA Champions League round of 16. The hosts are chasing their first-ever title in this competition having signed Lionel Messi to help them achieve it. Madrid has gone three years since winning the cup with the big ears. The big talking points of this match are over the fitness of key men like Neymar and Karim Benzema, as well as Kylian Mbappe, who looks set to move from PSG to Real Madrid in the summer.
PSG is ticking along in reasonably good form. After their matchday six 4-1 win against Club Brugge in December, they have played ten matches without a defeat in regulation time. Their only “loss” was on penalties in the Coupe de France to Nice.
In Ligue 1, the side are 15 matches unbeaten. After a dip in form, where they had a streak with four draws in five matches, PSG has now won four in a row. They beat Brest and Reims 2-0 and 4-0 respectively at home before thrashing Lille 5-1 in a top performance. Their last match saw a 1-0 home win against Rennes as Mbappe netted in the 93rd minute from Messi’s assist.
PSG Team News
The big question mark for Mauricio Pochettino is whether Neymar can return after a long-term injury. He should be fit to play 20 minutes but it is too soon for him to start. Sergio Ramos and Ander Herrera are set to be absent due to injuries.
Angel Di Maria will hope to start in Neymar’s place with the option to use Messi as a false nine or Mbappe as a center forward. Idrissa Gueye returns after his involvement in the AFCON with Senegal.
Motivation for the Champions League is huge for PSG and their owners. They look distracted against Rennes with one eye already on this match. With a 13-point lead in Ligue 1, full attention will go on this two-legged tie.
PSG tends to play a back seven of sorts with three forwards camping near the halfway line (Di Maria’s work rate could mean just Mbappe and Messi with no defensive duties). They will play most of the game on the break-even at home. They will go for the win, with a draw likely to be seen as a poor result.
Real Madrid Form
Los Blancos are in fine form. Their last 25 matches in all competitions have seen just two defeats. After a shock 1-0 defeat at Getafe, they won five matches in a row as they scored 14 goals. A disappointing 2-2 home draw with Elche followed. Madrid was 2-0 down after 81 minutes but fought back with two late goals.
A 1-0 Copa del Rey defeat against Athletic Bilbao preceded a 1-0 home win against Granada in La Liga as Marco Asensio scored a 74th-minute winner. Their last match saw a 0-0 draw away at Villarreal. Madrid hit the woodwork and outshot the Yellow Submarine 17-9 but couldn’t find a winner.
Real Madrid Team News
Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping to have Karim Benzema available after a hamstring injury. Los Blancos had tried all of Isco, Marco Asensio, and Gareth Bale upfront in his absence over the last three matches. Real Madrid is also hoping that Ferland Mendy will be declared fit to start at left-back, otherwise, Nacho or Marcelo will deputise.
The midfield picks itself with Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro selected. Asensio and Vinicius Jnr. will play on the flanks in preference to Rodrygo, Eden Hazard, and Gareth Bale.
Real Madrid Motivation
Madrid will be hugely motivated under Ancelotti, a coach who has a great record in this competition. They have sat back at times this season to protect their slow, aging midfield and then used their speedy wingers on the counter.
A draw would be a very good result from the first leg, although they will hope for a score draw at a minimum.
PSG have lost 4 of their last 9 UCL matches
PSG have conceded in 13 of their last 14 matches in the Champions League
PSG have scored 2+ goals in 4 of their last 5 CL matches
PSG’s Messi has scored 5 CL goals this season (just 2 in Ligue 1)
PSG have won 14/16 home matches this season
Real Madrid have seen over 2.5 goals in their last 5 matches against PSG (all comps)
Madrid have won their last 4 CL matches
Real Madrid have scored 2+ goals in their last 4 CL matches
This should be a great match. Both sides may try to play on the counterattack. PSG are desperate for a home victory and are a good tip to bet. Los Blancos should have enough to score at least.
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