Well, the world might have lost a rare opportunity to witness two of the footballing greats, Messi-Ronaldo, fight it out for their respective clubs, thanks to a technical glitch. However, even the prospect of PSG taking on Real Madrid in the knockout stages of the Champions League (CL) is no less significant for soccer fans across the globe. For the Parisian club, the journey thus far has not been smooth but it eventually finished second behind Man City in the Round of 16.
On the other hand, Real Madrid were Group D winners by defeating the likes of Inter Milan, Donetsk etc but even their form has witnessed a dip of late, especially after winning five of their six group stage matches. Previously PSG and Real Madrid have squared off with one another in the group stages of the 2019/20 Champions League, where the latter could not win either of those clashes (D1 L1). However, a lot of water has passed under the bridge in the last few years, so it is tough to pinpoint a clear favourite in the vital encounter. So, let us touch upon some of the defining aspects of the tie.
Neymar’s In Contention
Brazilian superstar, a vital cog in the wheel of PSG, looks almost certain to join the squad for the crucial tie after a short break. Neymar has not featured in any of the PSG games since late last November when he picked up an injury. Now that he is working hard to regain full fitness for the critical encounter, he knows if ever there will be an occasion to showcase his class and brilliance then this is the one. He might be asked to join the left flank with former Barca mate Lionel Messi and the French striker Kylian Mbappe to strengthen the PSG attack in case he emerges fully fit for the match.
“Real” Test For Pochettino
After enjoying a tranquil period, the PSG coach will be facing some sterner tests ahead from now on. Mauricio Pochettino will encounter one of his toughest assignments in the tie against Real Madrid. As everyone knows that nothing succeeds like success, even the erstwhile Tottenham would also not be oblivious of the same. So, a victory in the encounter against Real Madrid can strengthen his position in the club, whereas an upset can get the time bomb to start ticking. Hence, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Pochettino’s future hinges on every match from now onwards.
Time For Mbappe To Silence The Critics
Kylian Mbappe’s future continues to be shrouded in mystery but he needs to end the relentless speculations regarding his growing discomfiture in the mix. This apart, he also needs to show that, at present, he is fully committed to his duties for the Parisian club and not thinking about his future destination. So, this is the match to dismiss all negative talks surrounding him. The Frenchman is bound to be the cynosure of all eyes in the encounter against Real Madrid, despite the presence of two other superstars in the team.
Ancelotti Has Viable Options To Pick
In these times, it is getting extremely tough to pick the best playing XI, thanks to the prospect of injuries and the Corona scare lurking around the corner. This is where Carlo Ancelotti has an advantage as he has enough healthy and strong contenders to weave a formidable squad for the all-important match. Whether it is Karim Benzema or Ferland Mandy, everyone is fit and raring to go. This is definitely one box that Real Madrid can easily tick and swiftly move on to the others.
Courtois Faces A Nightmarish Prospect
Goalkeeping is an important job in the game of soccer as its effectiveness underlines, most of the time, which way the wind is blowing. Thibaut Courtois will be the man at the goal post and he knows fully well that he has a daunting task ahead: To nullify the unpredictable missiles from the boots of Messi, Neymar, Mbappe etc. Also, he requires able support from Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao, David Alaba and the fully-fit Mendy to stop the deadly PSG trio in their tracks.
The Clash of Titans
This will be the first match where Messi will be pitted against Madrid in PSG clothing. The Argentine legend this time is also in the good company of Neymar, provided the Brazilian proves his fitness, and Mbappe. Any team would easily get sleepless nights at the prospect of facing such strong opposition. However, Madrid have Benzema, the star striker, Marco Asensio and Vinicius Junior to deal with the formidable lineup of PSG. So, all in all, it is going to be one of the classic encounters of this year.