Europe’s biggest club competition, the UEFA Champions League has produced memorable games in the past. This season, as soon as the Round of 16 ties were announced, one fixture stood out immediately. Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) vs Real Madrid. There is probably no other modern-day fixture that would generate the sort of interest as this match-up is expected to generate.
One major reason is Kylian Mbappe’s future. The Frenchman’s contract with PSG runs out at the end of the season and Real Madrid is more than just keen to bring the youngster to the Spanish Capital. The move has been on the cards for two seasons now. It simply spices up the rivalry considering he was the scorer of the lone goal within injury time that separated the two teams in the first leg in Paris. PSG will move into the second leg with a slender 1-0 advantage.
Real Madrid and PSG Will Take Place in Front of 60,000 Fans at the Bernabeu
Recap of First Leg in Paris
UEFA discarded the away goals rule for all of its competitions at the start of the 2021/22 season. Real Madrid therefore wouldn’t have had any advantage if they did score in the first leg which they didn’t by a huge margin.
In one of the most horribly managed football matches of recent times, Real Madrid could only manage three shots, none on target. They were massively overrun in the midfield and only kept alive by goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois. The center-backs Eder Militao and David Alaba also came up with big performances.
The defence was finally breached inside injury time when Real Madrid’s transfer target Kylian Mbappe rounded off an otherwise perfect audition with a goal past Courtois who had earlier saved a penalty attempted from Lionel Messi. PSG have their noses in front as they move into the second leg in this true clash of Titans on the European stage.
Recent Form and Head to Head
Real Madrid enjoys a slender advantage in the head-to-head records between the two teams. While a total of seven games have been played between the two sides, PSG has won two and Real Madrid has won three. The rest two have been drawn with the number of goals scored being an identical eight goals each for both sides.
Both these sides have played three games since they last met in Paris. While Real Madrid won all their three games including two handsome victories with scorelines of 3-0 and 4-1 in the Bernabeu, PSG has lost two of the last three. Both these losses were away from home. And, that is not just recent bad luck. PSG’s form away from home has been questionable this season.
The problem appears larger when the factor of visiting one of the most hostile stadiums in Europe is factored into this. Real Madrid’s pride, the iconic Santiago Bernabeu stadium has been under renovations for a couple of seasons now. For the same reason, the capacity has been reduced to 60,000, and reportedly, it is expected to be a houseful in the mid-week with all tickets sold out. That accounts for the largest Bernabeu crowd of the last two years and the Parisian would rightly be paired up against 11 Madrid players and 60,000 chanting fans at the Spanish Capital.
Real Madrid has the clear advantage based on current form, historic record, and of course the comfort of playing out the decisive leg on their home turf.
Team News: Real Madrid
Real Madrid announced their squad for the match on Tuesday. The Spanish giants are missing two pivotal players in Carlos Casemiro and Ferland Mendy through suspensions following their third yellow cards in the first leg at Paris. Both starters and both mainstays at their positions.
If the suspensions didn’t make the job tough enough, Real Madrid’s primary passage of passing appears to be blocked since Toni Kroos picked up a hamstring injury ahead of the LaLiga clash against Real Sociedad. The German has been named in the squad but the Italian Manager is strict about not starting Kroos even if he’s 95% fit to play and not a complete 100%.
Team News: PSG
PSG had a massive shock when Kylian Mbappe picked up an injury during training on Monday. Subsequent reports have mentioned the injury to be just a knock and the precautionary medical checks, reassuring. The 23-year old forward has been named in the team by manager Mauricio Pochettino. Although, he stays a doubt and may end up not playing a part in the top-tier clash.
Former Real Madrid captain, Sergio Ramos, who joined PSG on a free transfer last summer will miss out on the tie due to his latest calf injury. Ander Herrera remains sidelined with an eye infection and there is also no space for Layvin Kurzawa on the squad for this game.
Real Madrid: Thibaut Courtois (GK), Dani Carvajal (RB), Eder Militao and Nacho (CBs), David Alaba (LB), Luka Modric (CM), Eduardo Camavinga (DM), Fede Valverde (CM), Marco Asensio (RW), Karim Benzema (CF) (c), Vinicius Junior (LW)
PSG: Gianluigi Donarumma (GK), Achraf Hakimi (RB), Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe (CBs), Nuno Mendes (LB), Danilo Pereira (DM) , Marco Veratti (CM), Leandro Peredes (DM), Angel Di Maria (RW), Lionel Messi (CF), Neymar Jr. (LW)
Real Madrid 3-1 PSG:
Kylian Mbappe will be eager to show the Bernabeu what he has in store for them before he makes his move to the Spanish Capital and this is his one last chance. Mbappe will end up scoring in this fixture.
But, given how poorly PSG have fared in their away matches this season with the two most recent losses to Nantes and Nice, Real Madrid will find themselves in the best position to win this one. The linkups between Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior are back as was seen in the last three games in LaLiga for Los Blancos.
Also back is the press that did its job well in the last few games. Real Madrid is expert at winning the ball at key areas and presuming the Parisians will be looking to add to their lead, an open game can end up benefiting the men in white. Let’s get it straight, PSG isn’t a team that can rely on its defense to hang on to a 1-0 lead whilst facing Real Madrid’s wrath.
The 13-time winners will turn on the heat and win this one backed by the biggest crowd in the Bernabeu of the last two years. The game could stretch itself to penalties as the two sides are so evenly matched that they run the risk of canceling each other out.
Even a 2-1 victory for Los Blancos would force the game into extra-time which is why there are high chances of it going into extra-time or subsequent penalties. Real Madrid will have the clear edge if that happens since the 13-time champions considering how good they’ve been historically at these high-pressure situations.
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