Group A of the UEFA Champions League kicks off with a banger, as former champions Real Madrid travel to the star-studded Paris Saint-Germain looking to consolidate bragging rights early on in the tournament. Zinedine Zidane looks to reestablish Los Blancos as the kings of Europe, while Thomas Tuchel is intent on ending PSG’s European duck as well. With both sides looking for emphatic starts, this should be a slobber-knocker.
Story Behind The Game
PSG have had a somewhat shaky start to their Ligue 1 defence, but the early loss to Rennes didn’t really matter as they still sit easily on top of the league. Injuries to Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani early on haven't helped their case, but Tuchel’s side still has shown to possess enough firepower to blow away lowly opponents in the league.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid have endured a very topsy-turvy start by only picking up two wins from their first four games. Indeed, draws to Villarreal and Real Valladolid proved that Los Blancos are far from a perfect unit. However, with Eden Hazard moving into the fray, Zidane should have his perfect XI ready very soon.
The hosts have a forgettable record against Madrid, having been unable to defeat them in their last four UEFA Champions League meetings. Indeed, the harrowing loss last year still hovers over their heads like a nightmare. Having defeated PSG in three out of their last four games, Los Blancos head into PSG a fairly confident side.
Considering all the early-season problems and injury issues Real Madrid are facing, PSG will probably be glad to be hosting them when their vulnerable shade is being exposed. Despite their own injury issues, Mauro Icardi, Angel di Maria and Marco Veratti provide enough quality to light up the Parc des Princes on Wednesday. The French giants are picking up form as Neymar returns to his groovy best, as their star-studded attacking lineup itself has the potency to tune up a fine tune to delight their fans early on in the Champions League.
Zinedine Zidane has the perfect opportunity to flex his superiority in Europe by ousting PSG at their own yard, but he’s held down with too many knocks. With multiple key players injured or suspended, he’s heading in with a thin-string squad. This is definitely not the squad he’d like facing PSG with and would’ve preferred a relatively easier game to kick off their Champions League campaign. However, the three-time CL winner turns up big in Europe, which means anything can be expected even with all the injuries.
The hosts are riddled with their own injury problems right now, as Kylian Mbappe is expected to miss the game whilst recovering from a hamstring injury. Edinson Cavani is out for quite some-time as well, as are Thilo Kehrer and Julian Draxler. Neymar will miss the game through suspension.
Los Blancos are dealing with a bad injury crisis currently, as Luka Modric, Marcelo and Isco are all out injured. Sergio Ramos and Nacho are also serving suspensions from last season, meaning Madrid will be without up to seven first-teamers in their trip to Paris.
PSG XI: Navas, Dagba, Silva, Marquinhos, Bernat, Gueye, Herrera, Veratti, Sarabia, Di Maria, Icardi
Real Madrid XI: Courtois, Carvajal, Militao, Varane, Mendy, Casemiro, Kroos, James, Vasquez, Hazard, Benzema
Karim Benzema vs Thiago Silva
Karim Benzema has been on an absolute roll this season so far, netting four La Liga goals already this season. He’s been absolutely everywhere in Madrid’s attack, helping them create moves by dropping back and linking up, before going forward to score lethal strikes. He’s definitely a man on fire currently, but Thiago Silva aims to cool that down. The PSG captain’s helped his side keep two clean sheets in as many games, but faces a challenging task against the dynamic Frenchman. He’ll stick close and peg him with strong tackles, but Benzema’s unpredictability could be the biggest factor towards PSG getting anything out this game.
Angel Di Maria vs Dani Carvajal
Angel Di Maria holds extra incentive to shining through against former employers Real Madrid to prove why they were wrong on discarding him so easily many years ago. He’s hit the ground running early in the season, scoring two and assisting a goal so far in five games. However, Dani Carvajal isn’t the easiest defender to warp past. The Spaniard has started the season brightly with a few impressive assists, but he’s also known for his defensive solidity. With his tight marking skills, tackling ability as well as game-reading senses, he’ll make things difficult for Di Maria. However, by holding the home-advantage, perhaps the Argentine will be PSG’s main creative force on Wednesday.