Match Day 7
Real Madrid vs. PSG
Thursday, February 15th, 2018
03:45 am (GMT+8 Timing)
Stadium: Santiago Bernabéu
Last five matches form: W L W D W
Average goals per match: 2.3
Average goals against per match: 1.1
Top Scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo (9)
Last five matches form: W W W W W
Average goals per match: 3.0
Average goals against per match: 0.7
Top Scorer: Neymar (6)
Forget about their poor domestic form this season - to call Real Madrid a genuine Champions League contender would not be an overstatement. While Zinedine Zidane has been under fire for poor showings in La Liga, his charges have quietly racked up the wins in Europe, with Cristiano Ronaldo the top scorer of the group phase with nine goals.
Nonetheless, Los Blancos know they have a game on their hands when they welcome Neymar and PSG to the Bernabeu on Thursday. Ever since acquiring the formidable Brazilian from Barcelona in the summer, Unai Emery's charges have turned from Champions League nearly men to favorites. In fact, despite their continued domestic dominance, reports from Paris suggest that not clinching the prestigious, big-eared trophy this term would be considered an absolute failure. No pressure Neymar, Mbappe, Cavani and co!
While many will be looking at Madrid's season so far and considering this game is a foregone conclusion, things are not all that black-and-white. We're looking at the defending champions here, and a team that only last season became the first to defend their UCL crown. They still have Ronaldo, Marcelo, Bale and most of the x-factors that made them virtually unplayable in 2017.
Their W-L-W-D-W last-five form sheet absolutely pales against PSG's perfection but, more than woe and hopelessness, it epitomizes inconsistency. The 4-1 win over Valencia and the 5-2 in their last game vs. Real Sociedad are perfect examples of what Madrid are capable of doing when everything clicks together. If they manage that at home on Thursday, PSG had better watch out.
Prediction: Real Madrid 3-2 PSG
Half time: 1 - 1
Full time: 3 - 1
Shots: 17 - 12
Shots on target: 8 - 4
Corner Kicks: 11 - 4
Possession: 50% - 50%
A fantastic game of Champions League football ended with Real Madrid 3-1 victors over PSG at the Santiago Bernabeu. Just as predicted, it was a tight contest with many ebbs and flows as some of the world's best players continually shifted gears in a bid to aid their clubs' quest for European glory.
The first 10 or so minutes had the holders flying out of the blocks and putting Paris under pressure with high pressing and quick passes. It was only when the game settled down that the visitors were able to carve out chances, culminating in their opening goal through Rabiot in the 33rd min. A fair amount of trepidation descended on the home stadium but on the pitch Zinedine Zidane's men soldiered on.
Cristiano Ronaldo's powerful penalty right on the stroke of half time gave the holders even more optimism though the second half was again very even with neither team dominating for long enough. With 20 minutes of regular time remaining, Zidane did what he has done so well so far during his eventful spell as Madrid boss - using subs to turn a game to his advantage. The introductions of Bale, Lucas Vazquez and Asensio gave Madrid an extra zip in the final third.
Asensio was particularly effective. The brilliant youngster gave PSG's defense all manner of problems and set up Marcelo's goal (Real's third) with a superb reverse pass.
Unai Emery's men, on the other hand, showed their inexperience on the European stage through their poor game management in the latter stages. Having looked confident for most of the game, Unai Emery's men started to look flustered and stretched immediately Ronaldo made it 2-1 and never really got back into their stride. Lesson? It takes a whole lot more than buying expensive players to build a genuine UCL-winning squad.
Nonetheless, there is still the second leg to play and, having seen Barcelona's 6-1 miracle at Camp Nou last season, nothing's settled yet.