Champions League Preview: Can Neymar & Co. Pull Out A Sensational Victory At Bernabeu?
The Champions League is the competition Real Madrid love the most, so PSG will have a run for their money when they face Zinedine Zidane's side at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid vs PSG is arguably the most hotly anticipated match in this season, rivaling that of El Clasico. The two titans square off in the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League, a match most football fans feel too huge for such an early stage of the competition.
PSG travel to the Spanish capital in high spirits after their latest win against Toulouse in Ligue 1. Their superstar signing this season Neymar once against scored as the Unai Emery’s side warmed up for Los Blancos away in the first leg of their Champions League this Wednesday.
Although the performance of PSG was not as well as it could have been and the Parisians were far from at their usual standard, all that mattered in the tie was the result.
PSG are having a fantastic run of form in the past weeks winning all of their six games after losing against Olympique Lyon in January.
Many are expecting PSG to win Champions League this season, however, PSG topscorer Edinson Cavani downplayed the expectations suggesting that Paris Saint-Germain are a growing club, and should not be under pressure to claim the famous trophy.
Cavani said in his interview with Spanish newspaper Marca, “I think there is a story, a myth, created around the Champions League. Of course, it is the greatest of all competitions, but for me, the league is vital – it is the result of a whole year’s work.
“This game at the Bernabeu is another step in the growth of the club in recent years. We want to be better each year and continue to grow with the club.”
Meanwhile, Real Madrid final preparation for this titanic clash against Real Sociedad ended in a flurry of goal for Los Blancos, thanks to a hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo, as the game finished 5-2 in favor of the 12 times European Champions.
However, the negative side of the match was the porous defense of Madrid side they conceded two goals, after practically winning the tie.
The season has been a disaster for Real Madrid after a hugely successful season in which they won a club record five trophies in the year. They won all trophies possible, barring the Copa Del Rey.
However, all that now seems a distant memory as the UCL remains their only realistic chance at silverware as the Blancos were knocked out of the domestic cup competition while also being 19 points off the top in La Liga.
The third member of their famed strikeforce BBC, Bale has been on and off the pitch with various injuries and will be looking to finally make an impact where his pace and directness has been sorely missed.
However, Real Madrid’s history and form in the premier European competition will undoubtedly serve PSG a mental barrier as the Madrid side is the record winner of the competition, winning it a massive 12 times.
Ronaldo himself has scored nine goals in the six group stage games and as such, will be hard to write off to score again against the French side. While doing this, he has also set the record for being the first player to score in every group stage game of the Champions League.
Real Madrid come into this tie hoping to turn their fortunes and season around while PSG arrive into the clash looking to prove that they are finally a club to be taken seriously by other elite clubs.
The first leg will be in the Bernabeu, and as such, Real Madrid will be looking to take the lead to before going Parc des Princes, while PSG will be hoping to go back to their home ground with vital away goals.
Los Blancos will be missing the vital services of their incredible right-back Dani Carvajal due to a card suspension. They will also be losing their defender Vallejo to a hamstring injury.
Dani Ceballos should return from a sprained ankle on February 8, but he is expected to be on the bench. Gareth Bale should make a proper start after a long season of injuries and make a major impact.
The Parisians have no significant injury except that of Ben Arfa. Motta has come back and came on as a sub in the cup game against Sochaux.
PSG manager Unai Emery will have a pleasant headache while selecting his three forwards in his preferred 4-3-3 formation from Di Maria, Mbappe, Cavani and Neymar.
Di Maria has recently scored a hat trick and is on a hot run of form. The Argentine will be pumped up to face his former club with whom he won a Champions League title.
Key Players to Watch
🇵🇹💬 @Cristiano: "On Wednesday we have a very important match against a great team. What me and the team are asking for is your unconditional support like always and together we will be much stronger. Hala Madrid!" #APorLa13 pic.twitter.com/N1SL44D2m0
— Real Madrid C.F.🇺🇸🇬🇧 (@realmadriden) February 13, 2018
For Los Blancos, the player to watch, as always, will be their star, Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese has become the first player to score in every group stage game and will be looking to continue his form. And after the Sociedad hat-trick, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will have all the confidence he needs to face the Parisians.
However, much will depend on their playmaker Modric who acts as the metronome of the team. Another player to watch out is Real’s enigmatic captain Ramos who is as prone to scoring goals as he is to receiving red cards.
Even among their plethora of stars, all eyes will likely be on former Real Madrid player Angel Di Maria. The Argentine scored a hat-trick in their last game but still could find himself on the bench if Emery decides to go with Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe as his front three.
Real Madrid vs PSG lineup (Predicted XI)
Real Madrid Lineup (4-3-3)
Zidane has stated he will go with the BBC when fit, so the formation is likely to be a 4-3-3.
Def: Nacho, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo
Mid: Kroos, Casemiro, Modric
Att: Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo
GK: Kevin Trapp
Def: Alves, T. Silva, Marquinhos, Kurzawa
Mid: Pastore, Motta, Verratti
Real Madrid vs PSG Prediction
The last time the two teams faced competitively was in the group stages two seasons ago. However, the form and quality of the two teams at the moment is vastly different.
PSG start off as slight favorites while Real Madrid’s love affair with the Champions League will make them hard to write off.
Hence, we predict a 3-2 victory for PSG.