Real Madrid will be aiming to kick off their Champions League campaign with a victory, when they take on French champions PSG on Wednesday.
One of the most exciting match-ups of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League group stage will come our way on Wednesday night when Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid face off against Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain at Parc des Princes.
PSG seem to have put their defeat to Rennes behind and have racked up three wins since, with the latest coming in the form of a 1-0 victory against Strasbourg this past weekend, courtesy a late Neymar strike. Having exited the Champions League at the Round of 16 stage last time out, Les Parisiens will want to go much further this time out and a winning start against a big team would certainly set the tone for Thomas Tuchel and his men.
Real Madrid’s season hasn’t been off to the best of starts, as they have won just two of their four La Liga matches so far, with their most recent game ending in a 3-2 win against Levante. Zinedine Zidane’s side, who were dumped out at the quarter-final stage last season in Europe, have looked far from convincing, especially in defence, and will have their work cut out against a PSG side who have scored 7 goals in their last 3 matches.
Ahead of this mouth-watering encounter in Paris on Wednesday, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams;
Team News & Tactics
Manager Thomas Tuchel has a lot of players missing for the midweek game against Real Madrid. Star attackers Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe are out with injury while Neymar, who made a goal-scoring comeback this weekend, is suspended. Defenders Thilo Kehrer and Colin Dagba are both ruled out, as is Julian Draxler.
Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who joined PSG late in the summer transfer window, should get the nod on Wednesday night. With both Kehrer and Dogba out, Thomas Meunier is set to make an appearance at right-back while Juan Bernat is guaranteed to start on the opposite flank.
Captain Thiago Silva and Abdou Diallo are expected to feature as the two centre-backs, with Presnel Kimpembe featuring for just 20 minutes after returning from his injury layoff last weekend while Marquinhos could slot in as the defensive midfielder for the hosts as he had done earlier this season.
Ander Herrera has only recently returned from an injury and is unlikely to feature from kick off against Los Blancos. Marco Verratti is a certainty to start in the middle of the park for PSG. The third midfield slot is likely to be taken up by summer signing Idrissa Gueye.
Summer signing Mauro Icardi should lead the line for Les Parisiens, flanked by former Real Madrid academy man Pablo Sarabia on the right and another former Los Blancos star Angel Di Maria on the left, meaning Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will be benched.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Meunier, Silva, Diallo, Bernat; Verratti, Marquinhos, Gueye; Sarabia, Icardi, Di Maria
Much like PSG, Real Madrid also have a number of first-team regulars missing for the trip to the French capital. Starting at the back, Zinedine Zidane will be unable to call upon captain Sergio Ramos who is suspended, as is fellow defender Nacho, while Marcelo has been ruled out with a neck injury.
Isco and Luka Modric are both injury-related absentees in midfield for the Merengues, whereas Marco Asensio also misses out. Brahim Diaz is recovering from his injury, but is not part of the 19-man squad named by Zidane. There is some good news though, as Gareth Bale is back into the squad after missing the weekend league game due to suspension.
There is no looking past Thibaut Courtois in goal, meaning former PSG No. 1 Alphonse Areola has to make do with an appearance on the bench. Dani Carvajal is a shoe-in at right-back, while Marcelo’s injury opens up a spot for Ferland Mendy on the opposite side. Raphael Varane should parter Eder Militao at the heart of the defence in the absence of captain Ramos.
Casemiro, who scored in the win against Levante at the weekend, will slot in as the deepest of the three midfielder for Real and look to thwart PSG’s midfield runners. He will be partnered by German international Toni Kroos while James Rodriguez will occupy the third midfield slot and try to pull the strings in the final third starting in a more advanced role.
Bale, who is back in contention, should walk into the starting XI on the right flank, while Eden Hazard is in line to make his first competitive start for Real Madrid. The Belgian should start on the left wing, with in-form striker Karim Benzema spearheading the Merengues’ attack.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Militao, Mendy; Rodriguez, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Hazard
- This will be the ninth European meeting between Real Madrid and PSG. Los Blancos have won four of the previous eight encounters, while Les Parisiens have come out on top just twice (D2).
- Real Madrid are unbeaten in their last four meetings with PSG in the Champions League (W3 D1) which came in the 2015-16 and 2017-18 seasons.
- PSG are unbeaten in 21 successive UEFA Champions League home games at Parc des Princes in the group stage (W15 D6). Their last defeat at this phase of the competition came in 2004 against CSKA Moscow.
- Real Madrid lost two of their six group stage fixtures last season, which was the most they have lost at this stage of the competition in a single season since 2008-09 (also two).
- Real Madrid have scored in each of their last 28 Champions League games under Zinedine Zidane.
Player to Watch
While Real Madrid have made a scratchy start to the new season, one man has been firing on all cylinders and has been dragging them through matches single-handedly – Karim Benzema. The 31-year-old French centre-forward has already netted 4 goals in 4 La Liga outings, while setting up one more and was Los Blancos’ best player in the win against Levante.
Benzema has been involved in nine goals in his last 10 UEFA Champions League appearances for Real Madrid (seven goals, two assists). He will once again be the key man for Zinedine Zidane’s side, if they are to come away with all three points from Paris on Wednesday night.
PSG 2-2 Real Madrid
PSG will be without their first-choice attacking trio of Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar for Wednesday’s encounter while Real Madrid will be missing three pillars of the team in Sergio Ramos, Marcelo and Luka Modric. And without a doubt, both teams will be hampered to a large extent due to the absentees.
But, Real Madrid have so much quality in their attack comprising of Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard and an in-form Karim Benzema, that they should be able to pierce through the PSG defence. However, their defensive lapses in recent games mean the hosts too are in with a solid chance and in Mauro Icardi they have a lethal marksman who can make the most of it.
The Group A fixture at Parc des Princes has the making of a highly-entertaining contest in spite of a large number of star players missing. There could be plenty of goals on offer on Wednesday night and we at The Hard Tackle are predicting this one to end in a 2-2 draw.