Big Match Focus: Paris Saint-Germain v Real Madrid

Paris Saint-Germain have it all to do as they attempt to dash Real Madrid’s dream of winning the UEFA Champions League for a third year running.

UEFA Champions League
6 March 2018
Round of 16, second leg
Kick-off: 21H45 (GMT+2)
Venue: Parc des Princes

Referee: F. Brych
Assistants: M. Borsch, S. Lupp
Fourth official: M. Hacker

Head-to-head summary

PSG 6 1 1 4
Real Madrid 6 4 1 1

Previous encounter

Real Madrid 3-1 PSG 14/02/2018 (UEFA Champions League)

Real Madrid goalscorers: C. Ronaldo (45′ pen, 83′), Marcelo (86′)
PSG goalscorer: A. Rabiot (33′)

Players to watch

PSG need goals and they will be hoping that Edinson Cavani can maintain his rich vein of form, having netted 30 times in 34 appearances across all competitions this season. with four goals coming in his last three outings.

Real can always count on Ronaldo to score in the Champions League, with the Portuguese forward reaching the 100-goal mark for the club in the competition with his first-leg brace against PSG, with 11 coming this term.

Team form and manager quotes

Unai Emery’s side held the lead for 12 minutes in the first leg of their round-of-16 clash at the Santiago Bernabeu after Adrien Rabiot opened the scoring in the first half, only to see Cristiano Ronaldo equalise from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time.

PSG looked to have come away with a respectable 1-1 draw, before they conceded twice in the final seven minutes to crash to a 3-1 defeat.

The Ligue 1 leaders have shown no signs of slipping up domestically, however, as three successive victories against Strasbourg (5-2), Marseille (3-0) and Troyes (2-0) took them 14 points clear at the top of the table.

They have also progressed to the Coup de France semi-finals after beating L’OM 3-0 in the last-eight a week ago, but their main focus continues to be Europe’s elite club competition and Emery wants a passionate response from his players in Paris.

“It’s the game of the year. It’s a unique moment for all our fans and everyone who loves football in France and Paris. It’s a chance for us to take a step forward,” the Spaniard said in his pre-match press conference.

“If we play the way we can, that’s what will decide the game. I hope for the best possible performance from Madrid with their best players, because I want us to be better than them.

“We have to play with our heads as well as our hearts, but if I had to choose I’d say it’s more important to play with heart.”

Los Blancos continue to blow hot and cold in La Liga, but they are a different beast on the continent in a tournament they have made their own.

Zinedine Zidane’s super group have recorded some big wins in the league against Real Sociedad (5-2), Real Betis (5-3) and Deportivo La Coruna (4-0), but they were unconvincing on occasion and lost 1-0 to Espanyol last week.

Real have moved up to third place after winning five of their last six games, but they remain a hefty 15 points adrift of arch-rivals Barcelona at the summit.

With Les Parisiens in red-hot form, Zidane is aware of the task facing his players in the French capital, but he wants Madrid to give a good account of themselves in defending a two-goal advantage.

“We have to be prepared for the unexpected. We have to focus on playing a great game, for 90 minutes and perhaps more,” Zizou told the press.

“Tomorrow will be tough for one of these teams, but that’s football. What I want is a good football game. We know we’ll suffer and it’ll be tough, so I want us to be able to suffer and play well.”

Team news

Emery has been handed a massive boost with Kylian Mbappe, Marquinhos and Javier Pastore all included in the matchday squad, despite doubts over the trio’s fitness.

There is also a place in the party for young midfielder Christopher Nkunku, but Neymar will be unavailable for three months after undergoing surgery.

There was similarly good news for the visitors as Luka Modric and Toni Kroos both came through Monday’s training session to come back into contention.

Marcelo could come back into the starting line-up after coming off the bench in the 3-1 win over Getafe on Saturday.