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Champions League

Real Madrid's possible starting XI against PSG in the Champions League

Karim Benzema and Ferland Mendy were Ancelotti's main concerns ahead of Tuesday's first leg but both players were in the squad and are set to start.

Real Madrid's possible starting XI against PSG in the Champions League

Real Madrid resume their Champions League campaign this evening as the knockout stage gets underway. PSG stand in the way of a place in the quarter finals and even though the away goals rule no longer applies, Carlo Ancelotti will be keen for his side to take a positive result from this evening's away leg at Parc du Princes. The Madrid coach took all of his available players to Paris - a 26-man squad which included players who have hardly featured at all this season such as Dani Ceballos and Mariano - more as a team-building exercise than anything else.

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It is unlikely we will see any surprises to the XI that takes to the pitch against PSG. Ancelotti will field his strongest side - the eleven players he has been using almost exclusively since the season started. In the days running up to the match, there were doubts about two players - Karim Benzema had been working around the clock to recover from a hamstring problem while Férland Mendy has been recovering from a tear to his left abductor which he picked up in the 2-2 draw with Elche back on 23 January.

There in no question about who will be guarding Madrid's goal in Paris - Thibaut Courtois conceded just three goals during the group stage. In front of him, Militão and Alaba will form the central defensive partnership - one which has been solid throughout the season so far with both players building up an excellent understanding. Dani Carvajal, who is back building up rhythm and game time after recovering from Covid-19 (he missed the Super Cup as a result), looks set to start at right-back. Over on the left, Férland Mendy is Ancelotti's preferred choice over Marcelo, who has covered for the French defender in recent league games.

Centre of the park

In midfield, Ancelotti is certain to field his select midfield trio - Modric, Casemiro and Kroos. Three legendary and experienced players who, between them, have played well over a thousands games for Real Madrid and a combined 311 appearances in the Champions League.

Three players have also held down starting places in Ancelotti's attack over the course of the campaign. Vinicius has made the left wing his own with a series of superb performances, showcasing his skills at beating opponents and supplying assists. Asensio seems to have claimed the opposite wing at the expense of Rodrygo. Ancelotti's only other doubt was Karim Benzema. The French striker, who has contributed 24 goals this season (including five in the Champions League), has missed the last three games with a small tear to his left hamstringAncelotti insisted that he will not be taking any risks with Benzema, and will only field the player from the start if he is 100% sure that there is no chance he could suffer a relapse. "The player's health comes before everything else. If Karim is able to play, he will play. If there is the slightest risk, then he won't play. We have to assess it thoroughly, we have four days to do that. If Karim plays Tuesday's game, it's because there is no risk of him aggravating his hamstring," Ancelotti told reporters on Friday.

Barring any last minute, unexpected changes, this will be Real Madrid's starting XI for the first leg of the Champions League Last 16 tie against PSG:

Goalkeeper: Courtois

Defence: Carvajal, Militão, Alaba, Mendy

Midfield: Modric, Casemiro, Kroos

Attack: Asensio, Benzema and Vinicius.