The Champions League is back with Paris Saint-Germain hosting Real Madrid in a mouth-watering Group A clash on Wednesday night.
13-time winners Madrid will travel to the French capital hoping to get their European campaign off to a winning start against a PSG side who are yet to taste success in the competition in their 49-year history.
Hosts for the clash PSG have started their league campaign off to a fine start, with four wins from their opening five Ligue 1 matches ensuring they sit top of the table; but will be hoping that form transfers over into this monumental encounter. For Madrid, they ended a run of two matches without victory in La Liga against Levante, hoping that form will boost their confidence when they travel to the Parc des Princes.
Here’s 90min’s preview of the game.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Wednesday 18 September|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||20:00 (BST)|
|Where Is it Played?||Parc des Princes|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||BT Sport|
Where to Buy Tickets
Tickets for the game are, as ever, available on both teams’ official club websites, though membership is required in order to purchase. In terms of resale, both teams provide the option to make season tickets available for others to use, if a supporter is unable to attend the game themselves.
PSG have been dealt a major blow ahead of their Champions League opener, with star forward Kylian Mbappe ruled out of the game with a hamstring injury sustained in the 4-0 league win over Toulouse.
His injury is added to by foot problems ruling Thilo Kehrer and Julian Draxler out, while striker Edinson Cavani is also missing due to a hip injury of his own. With four players out, the goal-scoring return of Neymar in the league has come at the right time, although his fractured relationship with the fans continues to be an issue.
For Madrid, Marco Asensio will miss the whole season after a cruciate ligament rupture, while midfield trio Luka Modric, Isco and Federico Valverde are all set for spell on the sidelines and won’t return for Wednesday’s encounter.
Injuries aside, Zinedine Zidane will also have to contend with two defenders missing out, as Sergio Ramos and Nacho are both serving bans for red cards.
|Paris Saint-Germain||Navas; Meunier, Silva, Diallo, Kurzawa; Verratti, Gueye, Di Maria, Neymar, Sarabia; Icardi|
|Real Madrid||Courtois; Carvajal, Varane, Eder Militao, Marcelo; Casemiro, Rodriguez, Kroos; Vazquez, Benzema, Hazard.|
Head to Head Record
These two sides have faced off on nine occasions previously, with the first dating back to 1993 in the UEFA Cup. The two-legged quarter final was full of goals, with Madrid winning their home tie 3-1 before succumbing to a heavy 4-1 defeat in the return leg, knocking them out of the competition.
Another two-legged quarter final followed the year after in the Cup Winners’ Cup, with PSG running out 2-1 winners on aggregate. Having been drawn in the same group together in the 2015/16 edition of the Champions League, a 0-0 draw at the Parc des Princes was followed by a narrow 1-0 home win for Madrid. An international Champions Cup match was won 3-1 by Les Parisiens the following year, before the clubs were matched up once more in the round of 16 stage of the Champions League in 2018.
With the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo handed the home side a 3-1 advantage, which was followed up by a 2-1 win away in Paris that saw Los Blancos progress to the quarter finals.
After a routine 3-0 win over Nimes on the opening day of the Ligue 1 campaign, PSG fell to a shock 2-1 defeat away at Rennes to hand them their first defeat of the season.
They’ve since rediscovered their winning touch, with victories over Toulouse, Metz and Strasbourg all following without conceding a single goal. Their most recent outing, despite having to contend with multiple injuries, was less than inspiring, however. Controversial figure Neymar scored the only goal in second half stoppage time to finally break down the winless outfit, but it was a fairly underwhelming showing ahead of Wednesday’s clash.
For the visitors, consistency has been hard to come by, stretching back to the beginning of last season. An opening day win over Celta Vigo looked like reigniting the club under Zidane, but successive draws against Valladolid and Villarreal halted those hopes, bringing the mood at the club back down once more.
Their most recent outing saw a return to winning ways, with two second half Levante goals not enough to stop Madrid running out 3-2 winners at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Here’s how both sides have performed in their last five matches.
|Paris Saint-Germain||Real Madrid|
|PSG 1-0 Strasbourg (14/9)||Real Madrid 3-2 Levante (14/9)|
|Metz 0-2 PSG (30/8)||Villarreal 2-2 Real Madrid (1/9)|
|PSG 4-0 Toulouse (25/8)||Real Madrid 1-1 Real Valladolid (24/8)|
|Rennes 2-1 PSG (18/8)||Celta Vigo 1-3 Real Madrid (17/8)|
|PSG 3-0 Nimes (11/8)||Roma 2-2 Real Madrid (5-4 on Pens) (11/8)|
The outcome of this match could be vastly different were it not for a significant number of players missing for both sides through a combination of injury and suspension.
No Sergio Ramos will prove to be a major blow for the visitors, who will likely need to field Eder Militao in defence in his first Champions League outing. He won’t need to face Mbappe, however, who misses out, but the returning Neymar – no matter how controversial he is – remains one of the world’s finest players and will cause problems to any backline in the world.
With Los Blancos shipping goals for fun recently, coupled with the home advantage, this is a game that appears to be set up nicely for PSG. With that in mind, a narrow home win could be on the cards here, but you can never rule Madrid out on the European stage.
Prediction: Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 Real Madrid