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PSG vs Real Madrid preview: Neymar returns as Benzema travels with Los Blancos ahead of last 16 cracker
- PSG and Real Madrid meet in the last 16 of the Champions League for the fourth time in their history
- Both teams have fairly potent squads to choose from, with PSG having the slight edge following the return of Neymar to full training
- Real Madrid have also been boosted by the fact that Karim Benzema has travelled with the squad to France for the tie
Paris Saint Germain and Real Madrid come face to face in an early clash of the titans in the Champions League round of 16 first leg on Tuesday, February 15.
Fans will be treated to what promises to be an enthralling encounter as the La Liga leaders come up against the Ligue 1 champions, with all to play for in the knockout stages of the most prestigious club competition out there.
Los Blancos qualified for the round of 16 as group winners, topping Group D that had the likes of Inter Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk and Sheriff Tiraspol.
For PSG, they had to settle for a runner up finish in their group which was won by Manchester City - a team considered favourites to win the competition this year.
Team News (PSG)
One interesting subplot of the tie is the fact that Sergio Ramos was poised to face his former side Real Madrid, whom he spent 16 trophy-laden years at.
But that will not happen, at least not on Tuesday as the Spaniard has been ruled out with injury.
Aside from Ramos, midfielder Ander Herrera is also a doubt with a thigh problem, while Juan Bernat was not even registered for the knockout stages.
But the biggest news as far as PSG’s team news is concerned is the fact that Neymar, who has been out since November 2021, is back in training with the first team.
Lionel Messi, PSG’s most famous import so far, is also fit, and so is Real Madrid target Kylian Mbappe and the trio including Neymar is expected to lead the potent PSG attack, with Di Maria possibly starting on the bench.
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Here is the predicted starting lineup for Mauricio Pochettino’s side:
Donnarumma; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Mendes; Paredes, Pereira, Verratti; Mbappe, Messi, Neymar
Team News (Real Madrid)
For Los Blancos, their biggest boost will be learning of the news that Karim Benzema was able to travel with the squad to Paris and is very eligible for selection by Carlo Ancelotti.
Another Frenchman, Ferland Mendy, is also in contention to start after engaging in full training sessions.
Thibaut Courtois is expected to start in goal, and is expected to get protection from the deadly PSG attack from the defence of Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao, David Alaba and the fit again Mendy.
Casemiro is expected to be tasked with the role of breaking up PSG’s play in midfield, while creativity for Real Madrid will fall to Luka Modric and Toni Kroos. Federico Valverde is also expected to be called upon for some flair in midfield.
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Here is the Real Madrid predicted XI to start against PSG:
Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius
PSG vs Real Madrid - Notable stats
The two giants have met 10 times in previous occasions, with Real Madrid edging PSG in terms of wins (W3,D3,L3).
This is the fourth time the two sides are clashing in the knockout stages of the competition.
The last time they played each other at the Parc des Princes in 2019, PSG were 3-0 winners over Real Madrid
Karim Benzema will be the man to watch, as he has scored in his last four appearances in the Champions League.
Manchester City look to brush aside Sporting CP
In other news, Manchester City will also be looking to qualify for the last eight of the Champions League when they take on Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon.
The Citizens won Group A with 12 points to reach this stage of the competition, while Sporting were runners-up in Group C behind Ajax, edging Borussia Dortmund to a spot in the Round of 16.
Pep Guardiola has not won the Champions League since leaving Barcelona more than a decade ago and the continental trophy remains his most elusive piece of silverware since then.