Josh Mart takes the opportunity to preview PSG’s trip to the Santiago Bernabeu to face Real Madrid in this UEFA Champions League matchday 4 encounter. The first part of this ‘double-header’ between the two continental giants in Paris was somewhat disappointing with the game ending 0-0 at the Parc des Princes.
Neither side were able to showcase in full the superb amount of attacking ability that both undoubtedly have in abundance. From a neutral point of view, I certainly hope for a fantastic footballing spectacle in the Spanish capital on Tuesday evening.
Since the game in the Parc des Princes a fortnight ago, PSG have obtained 2 wins from two, including an impressive 4-1 hammering of St Etienne and also a narrow 1-0 victory away to Rennes at the weekend.
Angel Di Maria notched the winner in Brittany, and he will be extremely keen to impress on his first return to the Bernabeu since leaving for Manchester Utd in 2014.
Real Madrid have also maintained their position at the top of the La Liga table with 2 wins from 2 since their last encounter with PSG. Los Blancos won impressively at early front-runners Celta Vigo and Saturday’s 3-1 victory at home to newly promoted Las Palmas kept Rafa Benitez’s men at the top of the table.
Both teams are locked on 7 points in Group A, and one feels that anything other than a PSG win here will see Real Madrid take top spot in the group, which theoretically should mean an ‘easier’ draw in the knockout stages after Christmas.
Team News and Tactics
Real Madrid have many injury concerns ahead of this group A crunch match. Bale, Benzema and Carvajal are all out through injury, and Luka Modric is a slight doubt with a hip problem.
With this in mind, I expect Rafa Benitez to opt for a 4-3-3 formation with the impressive Brazilian duo of Danilo and Marcelo as full-backs, Sergio Ramos should partner Frenchman at the heart of the Los Blancos defence. Real Madrid’s injury problems mean that they have to include several youngsters in the squad. This also means that players such as Casemiro, are likely to start in centre mid alongside Kroos and Modric (if fit). Jese and Isco should flank the ever-present Ronaldo in attack.
PSG also have a couple of fitness concerns ahead of the trip to Madrid. Marquinhos is ruled out with a thigh problem and Pastore is ill with conjunctivitis. David Luiz is also doubtful, but Laurent Blanc is hopeful he will be fit to start here.
Trapp is set to start in goals and Aurier, Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Maxwell are likely to be the defence in a 4-3-3 formation. PSG’s first choice midfield of Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta and Blaise Matuidi is, in my view, one of the best and superbly balanced midfields in world football, and on their day, they can be unplayable… expect all three to start here. The front 3 is difficult to call but I expect Cavani to start from the left, Ibrahimovic should return after being rested at the weekend and Angel Di Maria will be desperate to start this one. This gives Laurent Blanc the option of the pace of Lucas Moura and Lavezzi on the bench if things need changing.
Danilo (Real Madrid) – Despite him not being an obvious choice for the ‘Danger Man’ category, Danilo’s pace and positivity in both attack and defence, has really added a new dimension to Madrid’s game since he arrived from Porto in the summer. Edinson Cavani will have to help track his forward runs, as well as helping to neutralize his threat by pressing him back too.
Matuidi (PSG) – Blaise Matuidi has been described in some quarters as being ‘priceless’ both to PSG and to France. The dynamic midfielder has been in fine form this season, and his energy and ability could easily exploit Madrid’s lack of mobility in the middle of the park.
When the two sides met a fortnight ago, I predicted goals and the match disappointingly ended 0-0. This remains a possibility here as both sides could easily cancel each other out once more, but Laurent Blanc and PSG know that a point here (unless a score draw) is unlikely to aid their bid to top the group come the end of December. PSG therefore, will need to be on the front foot and this could leave gaps for Ronaldo and co. to exploit.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-1 PSG