Real Madrid will look to overturn a first-leg deficit and book a place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League when they host PSG on Wednesday.
Real Madrid will welcome Paris Saint-Germain to the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 fixture, well aware that a huge challenge lies ahead of them.
Real Madrid put in one of their worst performances of the season in the first leg at Parc des Princes and had to be thankful to Thibaut Courtois for making sure that the tie ended in just a 1-0 defeat. Since then, though, Carlo Ancelotti’s men have found some semblance of form, racking up three wins in a row in La Liga, most recently defeating Real Sociedad 4-1 over the weekend.
Los Blancos will know that they will have to take the game to their opponents if they wish to stand a chance to overturn the deficit and go through to the next round. Failure to do so may very well end up costing Ancelotti his job, despite Real Madrid leading the La Liga title race.
Meanwhile, PSG come into the game after tripping up twice in their last three matches. Since the well-deserved win against Real Madrid, Les Parisiens have lost to Nantes and more recently to OGC Nice on either side of a victory over Saint-Etienne. Mauricio Pochettino will be under pressure to ensure that his team does not slip up at the Bernabeu and goes through to the next round.
Team News & Tactics
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The big news for Real Madrid is that Toni Kroos and Federico Valverde are back in the squad after missing the weekend La Liga clash with injuries. However, they will have to cope without the services of key men Casemiro and Ferland Mendy, both of whom are suspended for the tie.
Carlo Ancelotti will have some major calls to make in the midfield department, given that Casemiro is absent and Kroos might not be 100% fit. Despite that, the Italian tactician is likely to go in with the seasoned midfielder for this titanic clash. The German international should have Luka Modric and the hard-working Valverde for support. Eduardo Camavinga, who impressed at the weekend, will likely miss out.
Dani Carvajal was torn to shreds in the first leg by Kylian Mbappe and will need to up his game at right-back. Eder Militao and David Alaba should pair up at the heart of the Real Madrid backline, with Nacho coming in at left-back in place of Mendy. The other possibility could be to shift Alaba out on the left and field Nacho alongside Militao. Marcelo is unlikely to start as PSG could exploit his lack of defensive nous.
Up top, Karim Benzema is a certain starter in the No. 9 role for Real Madrid. Having had a stinker in Paris in the first leg, he will be looking to redeem himself on Wednesday night. Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior should get the nod on either flank, with Rodrygo Goes and Eden Hazard options from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Nacho; Modric, Kroos, Valverde; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius
PSG will again be without former Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, although he will be travelling with the squad to the Spanish capital. Les Parisiens were given a major scare when star man Kylian Mbappe picked up an injury in training on Monday. However, the 23-year-old has recovered and is set to be available.
Leandro Paredes is also back in contention after missing the weekend Ligue 1 game against Nice. Ander Herrera remains sidelined, while Juan Bernat has not been registered for the knockout stages of the competition. Mauricio Pochettino will also set his team up in a 4-3-3 formation like Real Madrid and look to get an early goal or two to take the sting out of the contest.
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) March 8, 2022
The star-studded frontline of Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar will hold the key for PSG if they are to return triumphant from Spain. The trio will make for a fluid attacking unit, with Messi usually dropping deep to get on the ball and create space for the other two to run into.
Marco Verratti, who put in a masterclass in the reverse fixture, will be another pivotal figure for the French capital club. His ability to impact proceedings in both halves of the pitch will be crucial. The Italian will be supported by Danilo Pereira and Idrissa Gueye in the centre of the park, with Paredes unlikely to be rushed back into the lineup.
Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe will man the central defensive region for the visitors and aim to keep Karim Benzema quiet. Achraf Hakimi will be gunning to make an impact from the right-back slot on his return to the Bernabeu, while young Nuno Mendes should continue on the left. Gianluigi Donnarumma should keep ex-Real Madrid hero Keylor Navas out of the lineup.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Mendes; Gueye, Pereira, Verratti; Messi, Mbappe, Neymar
- Real Madrid have been eliminated from nine of their last ten knockout ties in the UEA Champions League when losing the first leg.
- PSG have been eliminated from three of their eight UEFA Champions League knockout ties when winning the first leg.
- Real Madrid have only lost one of the previous five games when hosting PSG in European competitions, winning the other four.
- PSG have won just one of their last eight Champions League away games against Spanish opposition (D2 L5).
- Real Madrid star Karim Benzema has scored 12 goals in his previous 11 Champions League home matches. Overall he has netted 64 goals for the La Liga side in the competition and is only behind Cristiano Ronaldo (105) and Raul (66) in the scoring charts for Los Blancos.
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Kylian Mbappe in training at the Santiago Bernabeu! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/4n7uOGImGu
— GOAL (@goal) March 8, 2022
Lionel Messi and Neymar will certainly be in the spotlight as the two former Barcelona superstars prepare to take on Real Madrid. Karim Benzema’s sensational form will also make him a person of interest, as he has the quality to be the difference between the two sides on the night. But once again, all eyes will be glued on Kylian Mbappe and the intriguing situation he finds himself in.
A priority transfer target for Real Madrid, the 23-year-old is already believed to have reached a pre-contract agreement with Los Blancos over a Bosman transfer in the summer. On Wednesday, though, he will aim to knock his prospective employers out of the UEFA Champions League. The Frenchman was absolutely unstoppable in the first leg last month, and more of the same could be expected at the Bernabeu.
Mbappe has been directly involved in 18 goals in his last 13 appearances in the Champions League, scoring 13 goals and assisting a further five. Real Madrid might be in for an early exit from the competition if he gets going on Wednesday night.
Real Madrid 3-1 PSG
Real Madrid come into the game on the back of three solid victories in La Liga after their defeat to PSG in the first leg. Carlo Ancelotti’s side have conceded just once in those three matches while scoring eight goals. Casemiro’s absence will be a blow, but Toni Kroos is back, and unlike the first leg, Karim Benzema is fully fit and firing.
PSG have lost two of their last three matches against much less-fancied opponents, showing that there are vulnerabilities that Los Blancos can exploit. Even though Kylian Mbappe’s pace is likely to cause problems, Real Madrid are a tough nut to crack at home for the biggest of teams. The Hard Tackle expects the La Liga leaders to mount a comeback and boot the Ligue 1 champions-elect out of the competition.