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It’s been an age for this one to come around, but rather than interest in the match having dissipated, all the wait has done is heighten the excitement.
Make no mistake, Zinedine Zidane has to win this tie, and go on to retain the trophy – again – if he still wants to be at the helm for Los Blancos next season.
Though little has been said about Unai Emery’s own position, he’ll be under no illusions if the French side lose too, particularly given PSG’s collapse last season at Barcelona.
All of the talk pre-game has centred around how well Real will cope with ‘MCN’ – Mbappe, Cavani and Neymar. With 76 goals in Ligue 1 alone, the bulk of which have been scored by that front three, it’s easy to understand the ‘noise.’
Real’s BBC have been pitiful by comparison, Karim Benzema in particular going through his worst period as a Madridista.
Most deadly trio in the world:
🔥Neymar: 24 goals, 16 assists
🔥Cavani: 26 goals, 5 assists
🔥Mbappé: 15 goals, 13 assists pic.twitter.com/YuPDiGH2Um
— Neymar Jr. (@Neymarvellous) January 21, 2018
For a variety of reasons, Los Blancos have been shocking this year, but when Madrid have been ‘on it,’ they’ve swept aside their opponent; as Real Sociedad found out at the weekend.
Just like the first half against Sevilla, Real were rampant. Moving the ball around quickly and incisively, four goals up at the break was a deserved reward.
If there’s one thing we know about this PSG side, it’s that they crumble under pressure, but it’s only happened once mind, away at Bayern Munich. Zidane would do well to show his charges a video of that game in the final lead up to Wednesday’s first leg.
The French coach will pick his best XI for the fixture, and every single player will have to play his best 90 minutes of the season.
Squeezing the midfield is a priority, not allowing Marco Verratti and Adrien Rabiot to dictate. The hosts will understand that if either player or their midfield colleagues are able to spread the ball to either side, Real are going to be troubled.
Dani Carvajal is suspended at right-back, and Marcelo has been nowhere close to the excellent left-back that everyone knows he can be.
The Brazilian will be in direct conflict with his countryman Dani Alves as well as Kylian Mbappe, and much of the visitors’ attacking verve is likely to come down that side of the pitch.
Neymar will fancy his chances on the opposite side against either Nacho or Raphael Varane, centre-backs who will be shoe-horned into the position to plug the gap.
Though they were only consolations for Real Sociedad, John Bautista and Asier Illarramendi’s late goals showed how easily Zidane’s side can be carved open. It was the fifth time in 2018 alone that they’ve conceded two in a game, three of those coming at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Whether MCN are in the mood or not, PSG will score. They’ve only failed to do so in one game this season in all competitions. Neymar is a short priced 22/5 to score first, with Cavani the same price and Mbappe an interesting option at 7/2 .
At the other end, Cristiano Ronaldo has to be given a free reign because he lives for the big European nights and you write him off at your peril.
A weekend hat-trick will have given the Portuguese huge confidence ahead of the game, and the record-scorer in the competition is 22/5 to be the first to ripple the back of the net on Wednesday.
Focusing solely on Ronaldo could be a dangerous game – PSG’s centre-back pairing of Marquinhos and Thiago Silva will need to be at their absolute best to keep Cristiano, Benzema and Bale.
It’s a game that promises incredible excitement, tension and goals.
With that in mind, I’ve gone for a big value #PriceItUp market that includes each of the team’s main men to score and a red card from someone who is used to seeing them – Sergio Ramos.
#PriceItUp – Latest – 90 mins: Neymar and Bale to score, Ramos to get red carded 100/1