Before the draw took if anyone told you Real Madrid and Paris Saint Germain will play the Champions League final, it would have hardly been a surprise. Without a doubt, both Real Madrid and PSG are two of the best teams across Europe. Both on and off the field, the two clubs are few of the biggest in the world. From squad strength to finances available to fans across the world, the level of these two teams is sky high. Both consist of some of the world’s best player in their team. Everyone knows about the greatness of the two cities they come from. It is not only a mouthwatering fixture but also a glamorous tie. Quite naturally, the world is eagerly awaiting the tie. Without debate, it is the matchup of the season.
In a blockbuster encounter on Valentine’s day, Real Madrid and PSG will go head to head in the Champions League. The luck of the draw has led to a face-off between two heavyweights in the round of the 16. The first leg of the tie is on 14th February at the Santiago Bernabau in Madrid. Later, the second leg will take place on the 6th of March at Parc des Princes in Paris.
In all fairness Real Madrid and PSG have had completely contrasting seasons. While Paris Saint Germain have been flying both domestically and Europe, it has been a season of struggle for Madrid. While the double defending European Champions came with a lot of optimism into the season, things have gone from bad to worse for them. The Royal Blancos are currently fourth, 17 points behind leaders Barcelona in the league table. Even the Champions league so far hasn’t been particularly impressive for them. The holders finished second in their group behind Tottenham Hotspur.
On the other hand, it has been near perfect season for PSG. Boosted by the signing of Neymar and Mbappe in the summer, the Parisians have been in phenomenal form this season. Quite expectedly, they are top of the league 13 points ahead of defending champions Monaco. Further, their champions league campaign was almost spotless. Unai Emery’s men were able to win a group consisting of Bayern Munich.
As harsh it may sound but the fate of the two managers rest on this match. Despite his heroics in the last two seasons, this season has been nothing short of a nightmare for Zinedine Zidane. The performances of Real Madrid have been well below par in the league this season. Looking at their history, an early elimination from the Champions League might not go down well with Florentino Perez.
On the other hand, Unai Emery will find himself lucky to still be in the job. Having failed to win Ligue 1 and the collapse against Barcelona, the Spaniard has a lot to be grateful to his Arab owners. While they will cruise to the league title this season, its common knowledge that the expectation from Emery is to win the Champions League. If they fail to mount a campaign for the second season in a row in Europe, it’s hard to see him retain his job.
While PSG has spent an enormous amount of money to build a team full of superstars, their record in Europe is less than convincing. So far, they haven’t been got past the Quarter Finals once in their history. As them blowing up a 4-0 lead against Barcelona shows they have lacked character in the Champions League. On current form, this is barely a contest. But Real Madrid has the pedigree of knowing how to do it when it matters. This match is a test of PSG’s mettle than anything else.
As already mentioned Real Madrid’s season has been mediocre, to say the least so far. Not only the entire campaign but their current form also hardly inspires any confidence. Having said that, there is no secret in the fact that Madrid has played their best football under Zidane in Champions League knockouts. While the past two years will give Los Blanchos fans optimism, it remains to be seen if they can do it again. While its not beyond them, their form, performances and most importantly defense barely inspires confidence.
While the talks will be about the front 3 of both sides, the real battle is between Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo. It cannot be a coincidence that both these players share their Birthdays with each other. Both of them share a lot in common. From their playing style to their attitude to their positions on the pitch. While Ronaldo has already won 5 Ballon D’Ors, Neymar has for long been tipped as the one to break the Messi/Ronaldo stronghold on the prize. If Neymar wants to win it, this is a tie he has to make his own. If Ronaldo wants to defend, this match is almost a make or break. Above the glamour of the prize, both their teams will look up to them for inspiration. The World will have their eyes on the two left wingers to see who can thrive when it matters the most.
Real Madrid- Dani Carvajal (suspended), Vallejo (injured),
The match is scheduled to kick off at 20:45 local time on Wednesday 14th February. This means the match will start at 1:15am in India on the morning of 15th February.