Real Madrid have a two-goal first leg lead to defend when they travel to France to take on Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of their Champions League soccer last 16 tie on Tuesday (2.45pm ET).
Madrid were 3-1 victors when the sides met at the Bernabeu two weeks ago. PSG took the lead through Adrien Rabiot, but Cristiano Ronaldo equalised from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time. He and Marcelo then secured victory with further strikes late on.
It was a disappointing result for PSG, who had hoped to match up favourably against an established European power, but the away goal does at least give them some hope ahead of the return on home soil. They have won all 19 of their matches at the Parc des Princes in all competitions so far this season, including victories over Bayern Munich, Lyon and Marseille.
The build up to the return leg has, however, been dominated by the news that Neymar will miss the match due to injury. PSG’s marquee summer signing suffered a broken toe in their league victory over Marseille last weekend and has returned to Brazil for an operation that could well keep him out of action for the remainder of the season.
Neymar has racked up 25 goals and 16 assists in league and Champions League play to date and will certainly be missed. But coach Unai Emery nevertheless has good back-up options in the form of Angel Di Maria and Julian Draxler, with one or the other likely to partner Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe up front in PSG’s 4-3-3 on Tuesday. Di Maria would have a point a prove against his former club and currently looks in pole position to start.
Cavani and Mbappe joined midfielder Marco Veratti and central defender Marquinhos in sitting out PSG’s relatively comfortable 2-0 win away to Troyes on Saturday, as Emery took no risks ahead of this match. While the French title is all but won, the Spaniard knows progress in the Champions League will be required to assure his continuation in the job.
The same feels true of his opposite number. Zinedine Zidane has led Real Madrid to Champions League glory in each of the last two seasons but probably needs to challenge for a third consecutive triumph if he is to remain as head coach next season. His side were eliminated from the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage and are well off the pace in La Liga.
Indeed, had a team like Sevilla or Villarreal been able to maintain a bit more consistency, Madrid might even find themselves in a serious battle to secure a top-four finish. As it is, with Barcelona pretty much unreachable in first and second also looking a long shot with Atletico Madrid in good form, their attention will now be fully focused on the Champions League.
Recent La Liga fixtures have felt like a trial run for this second leg. Zidane has regularly made use of a flat 4-4-2 formation and did so again in Saturday’s 3-1 win at home to Getafe. It is an alignment he used in a couple of big matches last season and one that would make sense in midweek given the possible absence of starting central midfielders Luka Modric and Toni Kross and the fine form of wide players Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio.
Asensio came on and changed the course of the game in the first leg at the Bernabeu. The manager produced similarly decisive interventions in last season’s quarter-final triumph over Bayern Munich and is likely to keep Gareth Bale out of the starting XI on Tuesday despite the Welshman’s goal against Getafe. His swift running and excellent deliveries from wide areas will prove dangerous weapons on the counter.
PSG will take strength from their perfect home record so far this season and their 4-0 victory over Barcelona in Paris last season, but it is still difficult to see them getting the result they need to progress. Madrid have enough quality in their ranks to equalise PSG’s away goal, and even if the hosts do run out as victors on the night, it is Madrid who should be fancied to make it through to the last eight.
Our Preview’s PSG vs. Real Madrid Betting Predictions & Picks Verdict
Here are our PSG vs. Real Madrid predictions and this preview’s pick at best odds available from the best of the offshore USA bookies for this Champions League soccer matchup:
- Back the draw on the moneyline @ biggest odds of +295 (almost 3/1) with Bovada Sportsbook.