Match Preview: Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid

It is showtime in the French capital, as Paris Saint-Germain host Real Madrid in the Champions League opening round this evening.

The derby of the night will see PSG and Real Madrid go head to head in Group A, at the Parc des Princes tonight at 21:00 (CET).

Los Blancos will kick off a new Champions League campaign knowing they are no longer the holders of the most prestigious prize in European football for the first time since 2015.

They travel to Paris on the back of a 3-2 win against Levante, their second in four games in the Spanish Championship this season.

Paris Saint-Germain, on the other hand, will welcome the most successful club in the competition after a narrow 1-0 win over Strasbourg thanks to Neymar’s stunning overhead-kick goal in the injury time.

It was their third in a row, as they top the French Ligue 1 with 12 points from five games.

Team news

PSG’s hero from the past weekend, Neymar will miss the Champions League opening two rounds through suspension for the comments he made after the 3-1 defeat to Manchester United in the Round of 16 last season.

Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani are also out, meaning it all comes down to Mauro Icardi in the attacking line of the host side.

Sergio Ramos and Nacho are serving bans for Real Madrid, while midfield trio Luka Modric, Isco and Federico Valverde are all sidelined with injuries.

The season finished before it had started for Marco Asensio, as he suffered a cruciate ligament rupture during the summer tour in the United States.

Talk to the press

Thomas Tuchel says he is confident before the Real Madrid clash, despite missing three of his very best players.

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“We like to be active. I don’t want us to be passive and Real Madrid have the ball. They have a lot of experience in this competition, and they’ve won it a lot,” said the German coach.

“I want us to be aggressive and play quickly. It’s a tough game, a big game, but it’s the first. It’s not going to decide anything. I want us to play with courage, play to win and make our fans enjoy it.

“We have players missing, just like Real. It’s a shame, but I have faith in my players. I’m convinced we’ll see a good Paris Saint-Germain team that can cause Madrid problems. The spirit is good, we have won five of our six games.”

Zinedine Zidane confirmed Eden Hazard is ready to make his first start for Real Madrid, since joining them this summer.

“We’re happy to be getting started in the competition. We know what we’ve got to go out and do and we’re up against tough opponents. We’re up against a great side, who always perform to an extremely high standard, but we’re ready.”

“They’ve got some absentees, but despite that, they perform to an extremely high standard without Cavani, Mbappé and Neymar. It’s not easy to win the Champions League. They’re working towards that and are improving year on year.

“He [Eden Hazard] is ready and prepared because he’s completed more sessions with the team. He’s a difference-maker and can make the difference in a lot of situations,” said Zidane at the pre-game press conference.

Stats

Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid will face each other in the Champions League for the fifth time in four years, with Madrid winning three of the four encounters since October 2015.

The last time PSG managed to beat Los Blancos in all competitions, was in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final first leg back in March 1994 when George Weah scored the only goal at the Bernabeu Stadium.

Last season was the first since 2009-10 that Real Madrid had failed to reach the semi-finals or better.

At home, Paris Saint-Germain are unbeaten since the 3-1 defeat to Manchester United last March. It is their only defeat in the last 17 games at the Parc des Princes. (14W 2D)

Madrid have only one away win in their last seven games on the road. It came in the La Liga opener against Celta Vigo this season.

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