Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain will be meeting of soccer aristocracy and the nouveau riche in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 this year. In some football circles, the tie between these two competition favourites is also being termed as a face-off between Cristiano Ronaldo and his heir apparent at Madrid – Neymar Jr. This match up between two of the most expensively assembled squads in the world could well have made a worthy 2017/18 UEFA Champions League final. We take a look at Real Madrid v PSG preview.
Back-to-back champions Real Madrid have seen their form nosedive in the current campaign with their hopes of retaining the domestic La Liga title next to zero now. Coach Zinedine Zidane‘s job in the Los Blancos dugout is certainly on the line now and the legendary former midfield maestro will certainly view this tie against PSG, in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League Round of 16, as a last ditch opportunity to stay in the hot seat at the club.
The first match of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 will take place at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium on February 14 and the pivotal second leg will take place on March 6 at the Parc des Princes. Unai Emery’s job at PSG is also not completely secure and it can be said that the winner of this tie is likely to keep his job and take his team forward in the prestigious tournament.
Champions League Round of 16, Real Madrid News
In what comes as major blow for Real Madrid, right-back Dani Carvajal has been suspended for the first-leg of this tie and will be a big miss for the home side.
Otherwise, Zinedine Zidane is likely to have a full squad at his disposal for this heavyweight clash and will certainly go in with a strong eleven for the crucial first leg of this tie at Madrid’s home stadium.
Keylor Navas has had some solid outings in goal in recent weeks will be the man in between the sticks for the defending champions. Nacho is likely to come in at right-back for the suspended Dani Carvajal, with Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo set to make up the rest of the back-four.
In midfield, Casemiro will take up the defensive-midfielder’s role and once again be the engine for his side. Luka Modric and Toni Kroos will the be the two creative outlets in the middle of the park.
Zidane will bank on the star power of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema to carry his team’s attack and in all honesty, their hopes of progressing to the next round.
Champions League Round of 16, PSG News
Unlike Real Madrid who have been struggling for quite some time now, there are no such issues for Unai Emery’s PSG side as they been the form side the French league and are comfortably top of the table there.
Young French keeper Alphonse Areola will continue to don the gloves for PSG. Former Barcelona star Dani Alves will take the right-back position, with Thiago Silva and Marquinhos in central defence making it three Brazilians in four defensive positions for Les Parisiens. Layvin Kurzawa will slot into the left-back position.
Matters are a bit more complicated in the centre of the pitch for Unai Emery with veteran Thiago Motta in a race against time to be fit for this highly anticipated clash at the Bernabeu. If Motta has to indeed miss out, the 21-year-old Giovani Lo Celso will be an option to start alongside Marco Verrati and Adrien Rabiot to complete the midfield for PSG. Former Madrid player Lass Diarra is also an alternative though.
There is absolutely no doubt that it is PSG’s attack which makes them favourites in this tie against defending champions Real Madrid. Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, Brazilian superstar Neymar and the ever so reliable Edinson Cavani have goals written all over them and are likely to make life tough for Zidane’s men on Valentine’s Day.
Real Madrid Likely Starting XI
Navas, Nacho, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo, Casemiro, Modric, Kroos, Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema
PSG Likely Starting XI
Areola, Alves, Marquinhos, Silva, Kurzawa, Motta, Verrati, Rabiot, Mbappe, Neymar, Cavani
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-2 PSG
In a tournament like the Champions League, predicting the outcome of any knockout game is a difficult task, more so when the two teams in question are Real Madrid and PSG. While Madrid have Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo to lead their attack, PSG have a fearsome trio of their own – Mbappe, Neymar and Cavani. Still, what has to be done has to be done.
Considering Madrid’s dreadful form in the current campaign, it is only fair to say that PSG might emerge as the easy winners in this 2017/18 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie. But the Los Blancos are the side that have won the UEFA Champions League more than any other club and are also the double defending champions. Taking everything into consideration, we predict an entertaining 2-2 draw in this match.