Real Madrid vs PSG Preview: Neymar bidding to outshine Ronaldo as European heavyweights clash

Real Madrid vs PSG Preview: Neymar bidding to outshine Ronaldo as European heavyweights clash

Having broken free of Messi's shadow, is it Neymar's time to shine on the big stage?

Oliver Emmerson

The most mouth-watering clash of the Champions League round of 16 gets underway on Wednesday, with Paris Saint-Germain travelling to the Bernabeu as they face Real Madrid.

Europe was left with jaws-dropped when the two teams were paired with each other in December's draw, with many predictions ahead of the game finally set to be proved right or wrong as it gets underway.

The two teams are set for a 19:45 kick-off in Spain and will meet again on March 6 to determine who progresses to the quarter finals.

A shock sets up a shock

Either of the two teams exiting the competition at the start of the last 16 would have been considered a shock at the start of the season, but now one must go.

It's come about after Real only managed a second placed finish in the group stage, something of a shock in itself. Madrid took maximum points against Borussia Dortmund and APOEL but could only manage one points against Tottenham Hotspur, who beat them to top spot.

PSG had an tricky group themselves but managed to top it, ousting Bayern Munich. They'll feel aggrieved to have drawn Real, back-to-back winners of the competition under Zinedine Zidane.

Neymar vs Ronaldo

It's thought that part of Neymar's decision to leave Barcelona for Paris last summer regarded wanting to be the start of the show, something he's now got the chance to do.

He's up against another star on Wednesday, in Balon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo. Neymar will be looking to take that crown from his Portugese rival in addition to knocking him out of the competition.

Throw in transfer rumours swirling that Neymar could one day become a Galactico himself and it's certainly a goalscoring battle to keep an eye on, despite Madrid boss Zidane trying to downplay the rivalry.

"We talk about two great players but tomorrow it's Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain, not Neymar v Cristiano," said the Frenchman.

"We can talk about a player like Cristiano, who has done amazing things in the game and won five Ballons d'Or, but everyone can see Neymar's quality on the pitch. 

"He's a quality player but we don't want to see a duel between Cristiano and Neymar, we want to see Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain."

Team news

Madrid are without the suspended Daniel Carvajal meaning we could see Raphael Varane in an unfamiliar right-back role, freeing up Nacho Fernandez to partner Sergio Ramos.

Ronaldo is expect to start in the 'BBC' front three with Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale

Neymar does have an ankle knock but is expected to overcome it and feature for PSG in their own star-studded attack.

Thiago Motta is out in one of few concerns for PSG boss Unai Emery.