Date : Wednesday 18th, September
Stadium Parc des Princes
Referee Anthony Taylor (England)
Paris Saint Germain
There is unfinished business and desperation to avoid familiar dejection in PSG’s latest Champions League campaign, not least because of the nature of their exit last season.
2-0 up after the first leg at Old Trafford and heavy favorites to go through against an unproven United side, PSG slumped out with a 3-1 defeat at the Parc des Princes sealed by a last-gasp penalty for the visitors.
That was the third successive season in which the French champions have tumbled at the round-of-16 stage, representing a poor return for a club whose vast outlay has repeatedly eclipsed their achievements in Europe.
In attack, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe alone joined for fees totaling more than £363 million, justifying expectations that the pair might provide the goals that could finally take PSG into the quarter-finals and beyond.
They suffered an early shock in Ligue 1 this season when they lost 2-1 at Rennes, but are now in their usual position at the top of the table having won four of their first five games.
Having brushed Nimes aside 3-0 in their first home match, they followed up that defeat by taking 50 minutes to find a breakthrough against Toulouse in Paris, eventually winning 4-0 with the help of an Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting double.
Choupo-Moting scored the second in a 2-0 win at Metz, doubling a lead provided by an early Angel Di Maria penalty.
PSG established a two-point lead at the top of the table in the most marginal of fashions on Saturday, beating lowly visitors Strasbourg with a 92nd-minute Neymar goal.
Paris Saint-Germain possible starting lineup:
Navas; Meunier, Silva, Diallo, Kurzawa; Verratti, Gueye, Di Maria, Icardi, Sarabia; Choupo-Moting
Recent form: WLWWW
Exiting to the despair of their home fans at the round of 16 stage, Madrid’s Champions League exit played out in just as disastrous fashion as PSG’s last season.
Returning to the Bernabeu with a 2-1 lead from the first leg in Amsterdam, Zinedine Zidane watched his side capitulate against Ajax’s young pretenders, who spared them the agony of a late defeat by surging into a 3-0 lead.
Ajax finished 4-1 winners on the night, causing significant soul-searching for Madrid on an occasion encapsulated by Nacho’s last-gasp red card.
These are strangely unsure times for Real, who have won two of their opening four La Liga matches, as well as experiencing apparent disciplinary issues.
Valladolid denied them three points with an 88th-minute equalizer to cancel out Karim Benzema’s late opener, and they were twice behind at Villarreal before grabbing a 2-2 draw.
Gareth Bale, whose future made for soap opera material during the summer, scored on the stroke of half time and four minutes before the end of normal time to save a point.
The current Wales captain was then sent off in the 94th minute, emulating the dismissal of playmaker Luka Modric during the 3-1 win at Celta Vigo on the first day of the season.
Real Madrid is third in the table – two points behind leaders Sevilla – after a 3-2 win at home to Levante on Saturday.
They dominated the match and were 3-0 up after 40 minutes through two opening goals by Benzema and a third from Casemiro, only for Levante to hit back after the break.
Real Madrid possible starting lineup:
Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Eder Militao, Mendy; Casemiro, Rodriguez, Kroos; Vazquez, Junior; Benzema
Recent form: WDDW
Head To Head
Real Madrid has a slight edge in the previous meetings between these sides, recording four wins to PSG’s three.
Most recently, the Spaniards won 2-1 in Paris to cap a 5-2 aggregate victory in the round of 16 in 2018, when Cristiano Ronaldo scored the opener and Cavani scored late to give PSG a glimmer of hope in the tie, swiftly extinguished by a Casemiro goal 10 minutes from time.
Madrid had come from behind to win 3-1 in the first leg, including two Ronaldo goals.
They met twice in the group stage in 2015, sharing a goalless draw in Paris before Nacho’s first-half winner gave the hosts three points in Madrid the following month.
Prediction: Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Real Madrid
This is a treat to start the first week of the Champions League group stages, as well as being tough to call in light of the unspectacular starts made by both sides to their league seasons.
The players who are not involved are likely to be more noticeable than many who are. Mbappe and Neymar are significant losses from PSG’s forward line, and the creativity of Hazard and Modric will be missed by Madrid