Well, the wait is truly over. A matchup to end all matchups, a clash between two European giants, and one of the most anticipated matchups this season is finally here. Real Madrid, perhaps the first time in a long time, has the odds stacked against them in the Champions League. To say their season has been a surprise, and not particularly a good one, would be an understatement.
Meanwhile their opponents, PSG, have dominated the French Ligue 1. While that’s not really a huge feat, they also won their Champions League group, which included Bayern Munich. The trio of Neymar, Cavani, and Mbappe has consistently been the best attack in the world this season and helped set a Champions League record for goals scored in the group stage . Truly, they are a force to be reckoned with and one Real sincerely needs to worry about over these two legs. Real do have the advantage of playing the first leg at home, though they haven’t been great there either.
Real do not have any injuries for this match (unless you count Vallejo), but they do have one significant suspension. Dani Carvajal is serving a Champions League suspension he received for a deliberate yellow against APOEL. This is where either Varane or Nacho will slot in his place at right back. Ceballos is also questionable, leaning towards being out.
PSG have one injury of their own in Thiago Motta.
Navas; Nacho, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema
This will most likely be the starting lineup that Zinedine Zidane will roll with Wednesday against PSG. The only uncertainty is whether Nacho or Varane will start in at right back for the suspended Carvajal. Casemiro will most likely slot back into the lineup, which means Isco will start on the bench. If Ceballos is not in the lineup, Isco, Asensio, and Kovacic (or perhaps Mayoral or Vasquez) will come on as substitutions.
Areola; Yuri, Thiago, Marquinhos, Alves; Verratti, Rabiot, Di Maria; Mbappe, Neymar, Cavani
The weak link to PSG is their goalkeeping. Alphonse Areola has been their guy since Kevin Trapp showed he could no longer be relied on as a starting keeper at such a big club. Areola has flashes of brilliance, but he is still far from being a top keeper in world football. PSG’s defense have kept clean sheets throughout the season but can bend and break if pressured enough.
2-2 Real Madrid-PSG
I’m going to be very diplomatic with my prediction for this match, which have been sorely wrong in most cases this season. If Real shows up for the competition they live for, they’re going to do a lot better than many outlets think they will. This team still has a ton of talent that can perform wonderfully when they’re on their game. I don’t think Real, especially Ronaldo, will not go gently into that good night, even though they’ve struggled severely with consistency this season. PSG is no doubt a tough matchup for Los Blancos. But, if Ronaldo and the defending champions continue their Champions League dominance, it’s not going to be an easy matchup for PSG either.
Regardless of the result in the first leg, this match should live up to its expectations and be quite fun to watch. If Real can manage to lead after this first leg on Wednesday, most certainly the pressure will be on PSG to perform back home in Paris. Fingers, nose, and toes all crossed for a positive outcome from this match.
HOW TO WATCH, STREAM CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Time: 20:45 CET, 02:45pm EST, 11:45am Pacific.
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain.
Available TV: FOX Sports 1 (USA), BT Sport 3 (UK), BeIN Sports (Spain).
Available Streaming: FOX Sports GO (USA), Fubo.TV (EVERY Real Madrid game with a high-quality and legal stream, click here to sign up and benefit from a winter discount for new members and Managing Madrid readers).