The best game in European football takes place at the Santiago Bernabeu this evening as the current champions Real Madrid face one of the leading contenders for their throne in PSG. The French side come into the tie as slight favourites to progress given their steam-rolling everything in front of them in France and the incredible attacking thrust offered by Mbappe, Cavani and Neymar. In front of them a Real Madrid side who are never more at home than on a big European night with history on the side of the LaLiga club. Maybe this is a bit of folklore but there is a self-belief among Madrid supporters and they genuinely feel they will always prevail in the biggest competition in domestic club football.
This last 16 tie has all the hallmarks of a semi-final or even potential final of the Champions League and both teams come into the game with varying backdrops. Madrid are out of the running in the LaLiga race and were recently eliminated from the Spanish Cup with a tilt at European glory their final bullet in the chamber. The demand on PSG progressing is different. The club has been the subject of heavy investment from Qatari backers and one obsession remains to be conquered...a Champions League win. Madrid's needs to win the game are more short term whilst that of the Ligue 1 are wider reaching with an early exit throwing up questions on the viability of their heavy Qatari investment policy. PSG need to win the Champions League!
I feel we'll see goals in tonight's game with both attacking trios hoping to wreak havoc on the opposing defence. Both teams are structured in a similar manner both opting for a three-man pronged attacking formation and are comfortable and creative with the ball with chasing a game not really part of their respective strength. Ensuring that their sides get the ball to the danger zone is the challenge that awaits Zidane and Emery. The Frenchman has suffered in the league and will be under pressure to continue in the competition whist Unai Emery is acutely aware of the massive demands placed upon him by the owners to deliver on the biggest stage in European club football.