Real Madrid will look to complete their progression to the Champions League Round of 16 when they welcome PSG to the Bernabeu on Tuesday

We are well into the latter period of the UEFA Champions League group stage, as Matchday 5 begins on Tuesday. The marquee fixture on the day will see Real Madrid play hosts to PSG at the Bernabeu, in the hopes of booking their place in the knockout phase of the competition.

Real Madrid endured a stuttering start to their Champions League campaign, failing to win their first two games, which threatened to leave them in a spot of bother. But, back-to-back wins over Galatasaray have brought Los Blancos back into a healthy position. With Zinedine Zidane & co. coming into the game on the back of a solid run of form, they ought to fancy their chances.

PSG, on the other hand, have been in command of Group A of the UEFA Champions League, much like their status in Ligue 1. With four wins in as many games, Les Parisiens, who are yet to even let in a goal so far, have been formidable and are pretty much assured of top spot in their group.

The reverse fixture, played at Parc des Princes in September, ended in a comprehensive victory for PSG, who beat Real Madrid 3-0 courtesy goals by Angel Di Maria and Thomas Meunier. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Real Madrid

Can Real Madrid continue their fine run with a win over PSG? (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Can Real Madrid continue their fine run with a win over PSG? (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Zinedine Zidane does not have any fresh injury concerns to deal with ahead of the visit of PSG. On Tuesday, the Real Madrid boss will continue to be without the services of Lucas Vazquez (toe), James Rodriguez (knee) as well as long-term absentees Nacho (knee) and Marco Asensio (cruciate ligament rupture).

Zidane rested a few key players against Real Sociedad this past weekend and so, some changes are in order. There is no replacing Thibaut Courtois in goal, however, with PSG loanee Alphonse Areola being the backup option on the bench once again.

On Saturday, Ferland Mendy started ahead of Marcelo, who did not even make an appearance off the bench. The Brazilian is, therefore, expected to return to the left side of the Real Madrid defence, with Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos set to retain their places.

Marcelo, though, will need to be wary of the dangerous Angel Di Maria, although he will pose a significant threat while bombing down the left flank. Another player who was given a breather against Real Sociedad was Toni Kroos.

Zidane has a difficult decision to make as to who makes way for Kroos, with both Luka Modric and Federico Valverde impressing lately. Valverde, though, might be the unlucky man, with Modric, Kroos and Casemiro forming the three-man midfield.

Eden Hazard and Karim Benzema are certain starters in the kind of form they are displaying. With Vincius Jr. excluded from the squad to face PSG, Gareth Bale and the in-form Rodrygo Goes will vie for the final spot, with Rodrygo likely to get the nod to partner Hazard and Benzema in the three-pronged attack.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Rodrygo, Benzema, Hazard

Real Madrid

PSG

The big concern for Thomas Tuchel heading into the Matchday 5 clash with Real Madrid has been the fitness of Marco Verratti. The Italian international has been struggling with a knee injury, but has been deemed fit enough to be a part of the travelling squad.

Ander Herrera (thigh) and Thilo Kehrer (match fitness) are among the five first-team players who are sidelined. However, their absence is unlikely to be felt dearly, with Tuchel having enough cover in his ranks to compensate for the unavailability of the players.

Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas will relish the chance to feature against Los Blancos once again and is a certainty in the PSG goal. The backline is unlikely to see a shuffle, with Thomas Meunier and Juan Bernat continuing as the full-back pairing, while Presnel Kimpembe should be Thiago Silva’s central defensive partner.

With Verratti likely to be fit, Julian Draxler ought to make way for the Italian international. Marquinhos will sit at the base of the three-man midfield, with Idrissa Gueye, who was impressive in the reverse fixture, completing the numbers in the middle of the park.

Tuchel has a problem of plenty upfront, with Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria all being attractive options to flank Mauro Icardi. Mbappe is an automatic pick after being given a breather for much of the game against Lille. Former Real Madrid superstar Di Maria should pip Neymar to the final spot in the side.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Meunier, Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat; Verratti, Marquinhos, Gueye; Di Maria, Icardi, Mbappe

PSG

Key Stats

  • PSG will be facing Real Madrid at the Bernabeu for the fifth time. On four previous visits, Les Parisiens have been victorious just once (L3).
  • Real Madrid have lost three of their last seven UEFA Champions League matches, conceding three or more goals in each of those defeats, and 13 in that seven-game run.
  • PSG are one of two clubs that are yet to drop a point after the first four matchdays in the group stage; the Ligue 1 champions are the only side that has not conceded a goal so far.
  • Real Madrid have won eight and lost none of their 11 Champions League home matches against French opposition, winning the last five such games in a row by an aggregate score of 15-1.
  • PSG have lost their last five Champions League away games against Spanish teams, their longest such losing run against teams from a single nation in the competition.

Player to Watch

Eden Hazard

Hitting his stride. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Hitting his stride. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

After a slow start to life as a Real Madrid player, Eden Hazard is finally beginning to hit his stride. Accused of being overweight, the Belgian winger has let his performances do the talking for him, most recently against Real Sociedad, when in typical fashion, he ran the game effortlessly.

Hazard now faces his biggest test in Real Madrid colours and he would like to burst another bubble – that he struggles to bring his best in the Champions League. Indeed, we are yet to see the very best of Hazard in this season’s competition and what better way to make a point than against Group A toppers, PSG.

Prediction

Real Madrid 2-1 PSG

PSG have been arguably the best team in the UEFA Champions League this season and are a tough nut to crack. Real Madrid, though, ought to fight tooth and nail to ensure two firsts for Les Parisiens this term – a first Champions League defeat of the season and the first time that they let in a goal this season.

This tie is likely to much more evenly contested than the reverse fixture and there is likely to be very little to separate the tow sides. However, Real Madrid might just find that difference making goal with a sense of urgency late on, which is why The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Zinedine Zidane & co. in a result that sends them into the Round of 16.

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