Sports Mole previews Tuesday’s Champions League clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The home side finished second in Group A to secure their spot in the first knockout round, while 13-time winners Real Madrid claimed first position in Group D to progress to the round of 16.
PSG signed Lionel Messi last summer with the view to the Argentine helping them finally win the Champions League, and it would be fair to say that the French giants would be full of confidence heading into the quarter-finals if they manage to progress past Real Madrid in the round of 16.
The capital outfit were not at their best in the group stage of this season’s competition, picking up 11 points from six matches, but the total was enough to see them finish second in Group A behind Manchester City.
Mauricio Pochettino‘s side will enter Tuesday’s contest off the back of a 1-0 victory over Rennes in Ligue 1 on Friday, which has left them 16 points clear at the top of the table, so they will be able to put a lot of focus on their Champions League challenge, with the first leg of their last-16 tie taking place on Tuesday night ahead of the return fixture at Bernabeu on March 9.
PSG, who were beaten by Real Madrid at this stage of the 2017-18 competition, lost to Man City in the semi-finals of last season’s tournament, while they also reached the final in 2019-20.
The French giants are desperate to finally lift the European Cup, which has been their aim since becoming a European superpower, and it will be fascinating to see their approach to the first leg, as the fact that the reverse match is at Bernabeu does hand Real Madrid a slight advantage.
Real Madrid, who are the most successful team in the history of the European Cup with 13 trophies, also reached the semi-finals of last season’s competition, losing 3-1 on aggregate to winners Chelsea.
Los Blancos won the competition on four occasions between 2013 and 2018, but they have lost in the round of 16 in two of their last three Champions League campaigns and will certainly be wary of a PSG side that should have Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Messi all available for the contest.
Carlo Ancelotti‘s side comfortably topped Group D with 15 points to advance to the knockout round of the competition, and they are chasing a double this season, currently sitting top of La Liga, four points ahead of second-placed Sevilla following Saturday’s goalless draw with Villarreal.
Real Madrid have won six, drawn three and lost seven of their previous 16 away matches against Ligue 1 clubs, while they have won four, drawn three and lost three of their 10 matches against PSG in all competitions, with their last two meetings coming in the group stage of the 2019-20 tournament.
The La Liga giants have lost two of their last three two-legged knockout ties with PSG, while their recent performances have been below what they produced in the first half of the campaign, having won just one of their last four games in all competitions, which was an unconvincing 1-0 success at home to Granada.
Paris Saint-Germain Champions League form:
Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions):
Real Madrid Champions League form:
Real Madrid form (all competitions):
PSG have Neymar back in training following a serious ankle injury, and the Brazilian is expected to be in the squad for this match, but he is unlikely to be available to start.
Head coach Pochettino will make changes from the side that started against Rennes on Friday, with Angel Di Maria, Georginio Wijnaldum, Nuno Mendes and Gianluigi Donnarumma all expected to start, while Messi and Mbappe will both be present in the final third of the field.
The France international has missed Real Madrid’s last two matches due to a hamstring injury of his own, but he will travel to Paris and is believed to be winning his battle to be available from the start.
Paris Saint-Germain possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Mendes; Verratti, Gueye, Wijnaldum; Messi, Mbappe, Di Maria
Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius
We say: Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Real Madrid
This has all of the makings of a wonderful game of football, and it is set to be a fascinating first leg in Paris. Real Madrid will be desperate for Benzema to prove his fitness, and the Frenchman is expected to be available, so we are backing the visitors to claim a 1-1 draw ahead of the second leg in the Spanish capital.