Real Madrid v Paris St Germain – Ramos back for Madrid?
Zlatan arrives in Madrid with his PSG team mates looking to capitalise on Real’s injury woes but Los Blancos boss Rafa Benitez is confident of being able to recall some Galacticos for the Champions League clash.
Captain Sergio Ramos is expected to be named in the squad while playmaker James Rodriguez is also in contention for the ten-time European champions.
While Benitez may be able to name the 24-year-old Colombian for only the third time this season – James has played only two games so far because of a thigh injury – online football tipsters will point to the continued absence of hot-shot strikers Gareth Bale and Karem Benzema, and other star players.
Not ready for high intensity
Luka Modric is a doubt after he was substituted at halftime during Saturdays 3-1 win over Las Palmas, with a reported hip injury, while Alvaro Arbeloa is also missing.
Speaking before the match, Benitez commented on his squad: “Rodriguez is on the list. That does not mean he starts. He lacks match fitness.”
The manager, who led Liverpool to Champions League glory in 2005, added: “Benzema, Bale and Arbeloa, who are not in the squad, lack the match confidence to have a role in such a high intensity game as this.”
Explaining the process of recovery, Benitez continued: “The first thing we do is talk to the players and then the physios and doctors in order to get a precise view of the situation. If he says the player is ready to play then there is no problem.”
Di Maria’s winner
For PSG, questions marks surround the availability of Brazilian defender David Luiz who may or may not have recovered from a knee injury in time for the match.
Laurent Blanc will be delighted his team emerged from Friday’s Ligue 1 win over Rennes without picking up firther injuries and will be looking to midfielder Angel Di Maria for another winner.
Former Real Madrid man Di Maria scored the game’s only goal against Rennes and football bettors and fans will be hoping for something similar from the Argentine – or anyone else given the 0-0 bore draw that was the previous Champions League game between PSG and Madrid.
That was two weeks ago and in the two La Liga matches since, Real Madrid have won 3-1 on both occasions while PSG have scored five in their last two league games.
Convinced they will improve
Both sides remain unbeaten this season and both top their domestic leagues – PSG sit top of Ligue 1 with 32 points from 12 games, while Real Madrid are joint top with Barca on 24 points from ten games.
Benitez said: “The team are doing well but I am convinced that they will improve.”
“I want to see the best team when we are competing for titles. We’ve got a great margin of improvement. I hope the best is yet to come.”
By: Joe Cahal