Josh Mart takes the opportunity to preview PSG’s mouthwatering UEFA Champions League matchday 3 encounter with the might of Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes. Both sides currently sit on the maximum of 6 points in the group, after both of the group favorites beat both Malmo and Shakhtar with ease.
This first part of the double-header between these two continental giants could prove pivotal in determining who finishes top of the group, as both sides will feel confident of winning their remaining two matches. Les Parisiens will hope the intimidating atmosphere at the Parc des Princes will be the difference against an extremely strong Los Blancos side on Wednesday evening.
PSG are in fantastic form at the moment. 5 wins from 5 in all competitions started with a routine 3-0 win against Guingamp in late September, and Saturday’s 2-0 win away in Corisca at Bastia increased PSG’s dominance at the top of Ligue 1 to a 5 point leave over surprise package Angers in the standings. Maximum points In the Champions League has also been a huge positive for Laurent Blanc, as there is so much pressure on whoever is at the helm to deliver in Europe’s premier club competition.
Real Madrid, like their French counterparts also sit top of their domestic league standings, however, whereas PSG have a 5 point advantage, Madrid are joint top on 18 points with arch rivals Barcelona, and another surprise package, Celta Vigo. Real Madrid won 3-0 easily against Levante at the Bernabeu on Saturday, a game which saw Cristiano Ronaldo become Madrid’s all-time leading goalscorer, which is a phenomenal achievement given the relatively small number of games he has played. Rafael Benitez’s men have been performing quite well, but many in Spain, and across Europe, are intrigued to see how they perform against a very strong PSG side in Paris.
Team News and Tactics
Laurent Blanc has a few injury concerns ahead of this crucial match is Paris. Marco Verratti and Kevin Trapp are both doubtful through injury and David Luiz is set to miss out on proceedings. Blanc can recall Matuidi to the starting 11 after the dynamic midfielder missed the weekend’s match through suspension.
With this in mind I expect PSG to lineup in a 4-3-3 formation, with Sirigu possibly deputising for the doubtful Trapp. Aurier and Maxwell are likely to be the full backs with Marquinhos partnering the recently criticised Thiago Silva at the heart of the back 4. Silva’s attitude whilst captaining Brazil was called into question by Selecao legend Romario recently.
Hopefully, from PSG’s point of view, Verratti will be fit to play alongside Matuidi and Thiago Motta in the heart of the PSG midfield. PSG’s options in attack really do give Laurent Blanc headaches as all 5 of the main attacking options are available to start. I expect Blanc to opt for a trio of Cavani, Ibrahimovic and former Los Blancos man Di Maria.
Rafa Benitez has a lot of injury problems ahead of this trip to the French capital. Star players such as Karim Benzema, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale are all missing for this match.
With this in mind I expect Madrid to lineup in a 4-3-3 formation with Keylor Navas starting in goals behind a back 4 of Danilo, Sergio Ramos, Varane and Marcelo (right to left). Modric missed out at the weekend but could return to play alongside Kroos and one of Kovacic/Casemiro in the midfield 3. Jese Rodriguez and Isco are likely to flank and provide ammunition for Cristiano Ronaldo, who is set to start in a central role due to injuries to Bale and Benzema.
Di Maria (PSG) – Angel Di Maria will be extremely keen to show Real Madrid what they are missing when they come to visit the Parc des Princes on Wednesday evening. The Argentine seems to be finding his feet in Ligue 1 after a troublesome year in Manchester. PSG will be hoping that he can hit the form that had Ronaldo fuming at his departure from the Spanish capital at the beginning of last season.
Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – Like when I have previewed PSG in games vs Barcelona in the past, it is difficult to use anyone other than the world’s best two players; Messi and Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar has been in good goalscoring form and his goal at the weekend made him Madrid’s all time leading goalscorer. There are many rumours circulating that PSG want Ronaldo to join their project next season… Watch this space.
With the way both teams have started the group phase, this match may not be as important for either as it could have been if one team had slipped up. Symbolically though, I feel it would be a real statement if PSG were to beat Real Madrid in Paris, then at least not lose in Madrid next time out, as that would not only put them in pole position to finish top of the group, but also send a message to other competitors that they are serious about going all the way in this year’s competition.
Prediction: PSG 2-2 Real Madrid