Can PSG get past Real Madrid in the Champions League?

Source: Cristiano Ronaldo via Twitter

Paris Saint-Germain are running away with the Ligue 1 title this season. Unai Emery’s side are the dominant force in France, and the way they have performed in the first half of the season suggests that there is no catching them. PSG may have lost already in the league and will probably lose again, but they are more than capable of bouncing back and winning the title with games to spare.

The big trophy for PSG this season is the Champions League. The club’s wealthy owners know that conquering France is not a big deal in comparison to the achievement of conquering Europe. For PSG to establish themselves among Europe’s elite, they need to win what is the most prestigious club competition in the world. The Ligue 1 giants have been trying this for a number of years, but they tend to fail at the knockout rounds. Forget about reaching the final; PSG have not even been able to get past the quarter-final stage. With this in mind, it’s little wonder they are rated at 5/1 to win the tournament outright, according to latest Champions League betting odds.

PSG are going to find it tough this season as well, not least because they have been paired with Real Madrid in the last-16 stage of the Champion League. Emery’s side may have won their group, which also had Bayern Munich, but Madrid failed to win theirs. Zinedine Zidane’s side are unlikely to win the La Liga title this season, but the players will be determined to make it three Champion League triumphs in a row. Madrid created history last season by becoming the first team in the modern era to win the competition two years in a row.

Source: PSG via Twitter

Unlike in previous years, this season PSG do seem to have a real belief about themselves. The way Emery’s side dismantled Bayern Munich on matchday 1 sent shockwaves throughout Europe. Neymar has been one of the best players in the world so far this season, probably the best, and the former Barcelona forward will be determined to guide PSG to Champions League success. Edinson Cavani is banging in the goals for fun, while Kylian Mbappe seems to be getting better and better. Defensively, PSG are strong as well, with Thiago Silva still one of the best centre-backs in the world.

Madrid’s performances, both in La Liga and in the Champions League, have not been great, but the Spanish and European giants know how to win in Europe. True, head coach Zidane may not have the depth of squad that he had last season, but there are still enough good players. Cristiano Ronaldo comes alive in the knockout stages of the Champions League, Karim Benzema knows how to be effective in big games, while Luka Modric and Toni Kroos remain a formidable midfield pairing. Sergio Ramos has not looked exactly great, but the Spanish central defender is very passionate and knows how to get the job done in key fixtures.

For PSG to get past Madrid, they need to win or draw the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu. Given the firepower of Madrid, Zidane’s side are likely to score in France, but they will concede as well. Emery needs to be attack-minded in Madrid and unleash the likes of Neymar and Cavani. A 1-1 draw or a 1-0 win at the Bernabeu should be enough for PSG to book their place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. However, if PSG do not score in Madrid, then they could be looking at yet another early exit from the Champions League because Real will then find a way in Paris, given the vast experience of their players in Europe.