Two of the favorites for the European Champions League title, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain are pitted to face each other in the last 16 draw which was held in Nyon, Switzerland on Monday 11th December 2017.
It is fair to say that PSG go into the tie as favorites, having won 5 of their 6 group stage games scoring 25 goals and topping their group which also included German heavyweights Bayern Munich. On the other hand, Real Madrid have been inconsistent this season and could only manage second spot in their group behind Tottenham Hotspur.
The managers of both sides will be under pressure to progress to the quarterfinals as neither can afford such an early exit. Real Madrid, the defending champions league holders are already 8 points behind Barcelona in the La Liga standings and with the domestic title currently looking out of reach, the Champions League presents itself as an opportunity to compensate for the realtively poor start to the season.
Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane is well aware of what it takes to win the Champions League, having won it in the previous two seasons and will thus have to use his tactical wizardry to his fullest in order to get past a very strong PSG side.
In August this year, PSG spent a whopping £198 million to buy Brazilian forward Neymar from Barcelona in the hope that he would boost the club’s chances of winning the Champions league having won it with Barcelona in 2015.
In addition to that, PSG also signed 18 year old prodigy Kylian Mbappe from Monaco on an initial loan deal which is expected to become a permanent £166 million deal next summer. Mbappe, whose impressive performances for Monaco last season propelled them to the semi-finals of the champions league is now one of Europe’s most sought after strikers and had been linked with a move to Real Madrid in the summer.
PSG coach Unai Emery will be under slightly more pressure than Zidane to deliver following expenditure worth millions of pounds by the club in the pre-season transfer window and also because of the manner that they exited the competition last season. Following a 4-0 victory over Barcelona in Paris in their last 16 first leg tie in February, PSG suffered a humiliating 6-1 thrashing in the second leg at the Camp Nou, three weeks later to be on the losing end of the greatest champions league comeback in history. This will be PSG’s first return to Spanish soil since that capitulation.
The last time that these two football giants faced off in Europe was in the 2015/16 champions league group stage with the two playing out to a goalless draw in Paris, and Real Madrid winning the home leg 1-0.
There is no doubt that the clash between Real Madrid and PSG will be a tightly contested battle, and with only one of the two able to reach the next knockout stage , the stakes will be very high.
The first showdown will take place in Madrid on February 14th 2018, with the return fixture to be played in Paris on March 6th 2018.
About Author Ian Mbanda is an 18 year old high school graduate and keen football enthusiast.
The Express News