The two stand-out favourites from Group A go head to head for the second time in two weeks on Tuesday evening, to see who can gain a vital psychological edge in the quest for Champions League knockout-phase places.
ADVANTAGE REAL IN THEIR OWN BACKYARD
Unbeaten in all competitions this season, Real Madrid will look to stamp their authority on Group A on Tuesday evening as they face French champions PSG at the iconic Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. A 0-0 draw two weeks ago in the French capital, failed to live up to expectation but with both teams looking odds on to qualify from the group, a win for either on matchday four should cement their place as group winners. Real Madrid are currently priced at *6.00 on the best online sports betting websites to win the trophy for an 11th time. Despite the club’s exceptional start to the new campaign both domestically and in Europe, coachRafa Benitez has stated that his team has “considerable room for improvement,” but a win on Tuesday and defeat for Malmo in the Ukraine against Shakhtar Donetsk will see Los Blancos safely into the knockout phase in February. The Spanish giants warmed up for Tuesday’s contest with a routine 3-1 home win over Las Palmas at the weekend, Benitez will be expecting a tougher challenge from the Parisians.
PSG BRING SELF BELIEF TO THE SPANISH CAPITAL
A real back’s to the wall job at the Parc des Princes two weeks ago got PSG a hard-earned point against a Real side who dominated much of the game. Just like Tuesday’s opponents, the French champions are unbeaten in all competitions this season and coach Lauren Blanc firmly believes that his team can be the surprise package in this year’s competition. The best football betting sites don’t agree, but they haven’t ruled out the possibility that the club from the French capital will take a result from the Bernabéu on Tuesday, pricing them at a competitive *2.37 to win group A. A goal from former Real midfielder Ángel Di María, was enough to take all three points at the weekend at the expense of Rennes, but Blanc’s team will need to improve on their performance from the first meeting if they are to cause an upset.
Real Madrid will be without Welsh wizard Gareth Bale, who has a hamstring injury and defender Daniel Carvajal, who is suffering from ankle problems. There are also serious doubts about the participation of midfielder Luca Modrić (hip), Colombian playmaker James Rodriguez (thigh) and French striker Karim Benzema (hamstring).
Argentine midfielder Javier Pastore is missing for PSG. He is suffering from conjunctivitis and Brazilian defender Marquinhos is also unavailable due to a thigh injury. Apart from these two, Blanc has a pretty much full strength squad to select from. Di Maria will be desperate to score against his old club, after rumours circulated last week that he never wanted to leave the Spanish giants in the first place.
PROBABLE STARTING XI’S
Real Madrid (4-4-2) Keylor Navas; Danilo, Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Casemiro, Isco, Jesé; Benzema, Ronaldo.
PSG (4-3-3) Trapp; Maxwell, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Aurier; Thiago Motta, Matuidi, Verratti; Di Maria, Ibrahimovic, Cavani
HEAD TO HEAD
In the five previous meetings between the two sides, PSG have the slight upper hand with two wins to Real’s one; there have been two draws. Prior to two weeks ago, the sides last locked horns in the now defunct Uefa Cup Winners Cup way back in 1994, when the side from the French capital came through over two legs. PSG’s last victory on Spanish soil came back in 2013 when they won at Valencia in the round of the last 16.
Real Madrid 1.72 Draw 4.00 PSG 5.00
*odds courtesy of Bet365
Steve Mitchell (@barafundler)