Real Madrid invokes its ‘Champions mode’ against a motivated PSG
Carlo Ancelotti’s men start the decisive phase in Europe in Paris against the threat of Mbappé and Messi and awaiting Benzema
MADRID, Feb. 14 (.) –
Real Madrid visits Paris Saint-Germain this Tuesday (9:00 p.m.) in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16, a duel in which they want to recover the positive feelings lost in recent games, activating the ‘Champions mode ‘ to face the first ‘final’ of the season against a rival, who also sees the duel as a crucial point to win the title, his great desire for years.
Carlo Ancelotti’s team begins its journey in the qualifying rounds of the continental competition with the first big date of the campaign against a European colossus, more because of the potential of its squad than because of its track record. A clash that could mean a turning point for the Whites, who begin the key part of the season with some doubts and where they hope that their experience will serve to stop the Parisian ambition.
Real Madrid reached an excellent moment in football that culminated in their victory in the Spanish Super Cup, the first title of the season. From there, more shadows than lights in a team that has lost scoring ability since its reference in attack, Frenchman Karim Benzema, was injured.
Precisely, the presence of the white ‘9’ is the great doubt for the Italian coach, who will have to decide if the Frenchman has minutes in Paris, who has missed three games since his injury against Elche. An absence that has been very noticeable, especially at the scoring level, with only one goal scored in his last three games. In addition, the presence of the striker would improve the rest of the group, with Vinicius growing alongside the Lyon player.
Ancelotti tried Bale as the Frenchman’s replacement in the goalless draw at La Cerámica and the Welshman left good feelings despite his inactivity to be considered an option if the ‘9’ doesn’t have the feelings he wants. On the flanks, Vinicius and Asensio are emerging as starters, although the Italian coach did not rule out putting a midfielder there in the face of the threats posed by Mbappé and Di María, which would increase Valverde’s options.
Where there will be no changes will be in the midfield, where a battle for possession between the Casemiro-Kroos-Modric trio and Verratti, Paredes and Danilo is predicted, with the Croat rested after rotating over the weekend, while in defense, a important value as Mendy to stop the ‘Fideo’. Alaba and Militao will have a tough test against the coveted Mbappé and a Messi willing to break his drought against the Madridistas.
NEYMAR RETURNS, RAMOS LOW
Opposite will be a highly motivated PSG, with enthusiasm and desire to finally fulfill the great goal of every year: get their first Champions League. With a runner-up as the best result in his history, he begins his journey against one of the worst possible rivals. In the previous phase, they were second with three wins, two draws and one loss in a group led by Manchester City.
Of their last six clashes in the Champions League, PSG have only won one of them (3-0), in the 2019 group stage. While in the last precedent between the two in a round of 16, Real Madrid advanced to quarters prevailing in the first leg (3-1) and return (1-2). This becomes one more incentive for a lively Parisian team, which wants to turn the statistics around.
Clear leader of Ligue 1, PSG won by the minimum (1-0) and in minute 92 against Rennes thanks to a goal from Mbappé. The striker is another of the attractions of the tie, towards whom all the spotlights will be directed due to his link with the white team from next season, but who could be his executioner in the Champions League. The striker is the main threat of a team that he sees as his infirmary being emptied for this key match.
Sergio Ramos will not be able to play against his former team, but Mauricio Pochettino got Paredes and Di María back on time, who played on Friday, and finally Neymar. The Brazilian winger has not played since November 28 of last year, but he could have his first minutes against Real Madrid and give even more potential to the local attack.
The tie will also be marked by the presence of Leo Messi, who faces Real Madrid again, a team for which he has scored 26 goals, although the last one was in May 2018. The man from Rosario will presumably form a forward with Di María and Mbappé , in a very dangerous trident, although he has only scored seven goals this season.
PSG: Donnarumma; Achraf, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Mendes; Verrati, Paredes, Danilo; Di Maria, Messi, Mabappe.
REAL MADRID: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric; Vinicius, Asensio, Benzema.
–REFEREE: Daniele Orsato (ITA).
–STADIUM: Parc des Princes.
–TIME: 21.00/Movistar Champions League.