Real Madrid travel to Paris to face a Neymar-less PSG and have a 3-1 advantage going into the second leg of their UEFA Champions League knockout tie.
PSG have had a smooth sailing in Ligue 1 thus far, with the club having a comfortable 14-point lead over their nearest contender AS Monaco. In the Champions League, however, their task is cut out, having suffered a 3-1 loss in the first leg at the Bernabeu.
Real Madrid have had a completely contrasting season so far. Their domestic form is unenviable while they seem to have carried over their last season form, albeit only in the UEFA Champions League. Zidane’s men are now primed to enter the Quarter-Finals, with a 3-1 lead over PSG in the Round of 16 tie.
PSG will be hoping for a scoreline similar to what they achieved against Barcelona at Parc des Princes last season, where they ran out 4-0 winners. Ahead of the second leg of the crucial Round of 16 tie, we take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
One of the major body blows to PSG’s hopes of qualifying is the absence of Neymar. But, that is not where the injury headaches end for Unai Emery. Kylian Mbappe suffered an ankle injury and was not risked over the weekend. The Frenchman is a doubt and should ideally, not be risked for the tie, meaning the manager could be without two of its first-choice front three going into the match.
Emery will now pin his hopes on Angel Di Maria and Julian Draxler to assist goal machine Edinson Cavani.
The problems though, do not end there. If the attack has been plagued by injuries, the defence is no better. Alphonse Areola and Marquinhos are both doubtful for the tie. But, we should see the duo recover and start for the home side, which would be somewhat of a boost to Unai Emery & co.
PSG are likely to play the match mostly in midfield and try to keep the Real Madrid attackers away from their backline. The front three will be directed to capitalise on the mistakes of the Real Madrid defence.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Areola; Alves, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Kurzawa; Verratti, Motta, Rabiot; Draxler, Cavani, Di Maria
Zinedine Zidane will welcome Dani Carvajal back after the Spaniard missed the first leg due to suspension. Marcelo has also recovered from his injury and is likely to start on the other side of the four-man backline.
There are positive news all around on the personnel front for Zidane, with Toni Kroos and Luka Modric also returning to training. The duo are likely to be in the thick of things and should feature, be it from the bench or otherwise.
Zidane should ideally go with a 4-3-3 to counter PSG’s own formation and also to have a more fluid attack. Gareth Bale could be the only one whose spot is in danger, with the in-form Marco Asensio and the likes of Isco and Lucas Vazquez eyeing a start in Paris.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Benzema, Ronaldo
Real Madrid won the first leg of this matchup 3-1, but the real story is on the injury list. Neymar rolled his ankle in an awkward way, and was carried off the pitch on a stretcher. Neymar is obviously hugely important to PSG’s chances against Real, and without him (or Marquinhos, for that matter) the second leg could be a foregone conclusion.
PSG are still the favourites according to sportsbook review site mytopsportsbooks, as Neymar is expected to return, but look for that to change with medical news out of the Brazilian’s camp.
Knowing what we know now, sportsbooks have the following odds for the second leg:
-PSG to win: 5/6
-Real Madrid to win: 27/10
-Ronaldo to score: 11/8
-Neymar to score: 5/6
1. Real Madrid have scored at least 2 goals in each of their last 16 Champions League matches.
2. Expected goal glut – Real Madrid’s games have seen 3 or more goals scored in 19 out of 20 occasions. As far as PSG are concerned, 3 or more goals have been scored in each of their 14 matches.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo is miles ahead of everyone else as far as goals scored in the Champions League is concerned, with 11 goals to his name so far. And, he can add to that on Tuesday.
4. While Ronaldo has been on fire, Edinson Cavani also comes into the game on the back of solid league form, with 7 goals and an assist in his last 10 Ligue 1 fixtures.
5. To add to Real Madrid’s advantage, they have scored in each of their last 10 away games in the UEFA Champions League.
Player to Watch
Angel Di Maria
With no Neymar to terrorize the Real Madrid defence, it will be upto the Argentine to lead his side to an unlikely victory over his former employers. His departure had caused quite an uproar within the squad, with many questioning Florentino Perez’s decision to sell the player.
Now, Di Maria has the chance to show Perez once again, as to why he is so revered by his adversaries.
PSG 1-2 Real Madrid
This might be a very open affair, which will play against the home side. The trio of Benzema, Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo seems to be hitting top form at the right moment and we can expect them to get their side over the line comfortably. While PSG will do all they can to try and be in the game, Real Madrid are likely to win the tie and the overall fixture as well.