It is one of the most eagerly anticipated fixtures in this year's group stage of the Champions League. On Wednesday night, two of Europe's richest and most powerful teams will do battle as Paris Saint-Germain welcome 2014 winners Real Madrid to the French capital.
On paper, it’s a game that should be saved for the semi-finals or final of the competition. It may well pan out that way, though - both teams have won their first two group games and so should easily secure qualification.
PSG arguably go into the game as favourites. They were able to rest key players Blaise Matuidi, Marco Verratti and Angel Di Maria in their 2-0 win away at Corsican side Bastia at the weekend, all of whom should be reintroduced to the starting line-up to further improve their side.
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The only injury concerns that Laurent Blanc's team have are German goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, who has been first choice since his arrival in the summer, and David Luiz, the Frenchman missing the past few Ligue 1 games with a knee injury.
In spite of these absences, PSG are a formidable force with great strength in depth - and in former first choice 'keeper Salvatore Sirigu, they have a capable replacement for Trapp.
Marquinhos should deputise for Luiz in a like-for-like replacement. The young Brazilian, who was targeted by Chelsea in the summer, is perhaps a more consistent performer than his Brazilian counterpart and will slot in seamlessly alongside club captain Thiago Silva at the heart of the Parisian defence.
Madrid's mixed season
Madrid, on the other hand, have enjoyed a mixed start to the season. They are level on points with bitter rivals Barcelona at the top of the table, but Los Blancos fans have been irritated by new boss Rafael Benitez's defensive approach, which has seen star man Cristiano Ronaldo frustrated. He seems to have lost his swagger since the Spaniard took over from ex-PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti.
The dire injury situation has not helped his cause either. Dani Carvajal, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema and now Gareth Bale are all absent for the trip to Paris. The majority of these players, if not all of them, are worthy of 'world-class' status and are all guaranteed starters for Benitez's side.
There will be a lot of pressure on the broad shoulders of Ronaldo on Wednesday to provide a potent goal threat in the absence of his supporting cast of world-beaters.
Zlatan to shine?
If PSG can stifle and frustrate Ronaldo, who will likely play as a centre forward in Benzema's absence, they should have enough quality in the final third to punish a weakened Madrid defence. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been in fine goalscoring form, whilst Edinson Cavani and Di Maria have weighed in with goals throughout the season.
Les Parisiens are hungry for European success this season. It is what the whole Qatari project was built around and their talismanic striker, Ibrahimovic, who himself has never won the tournament in his illustrious career, will see this season as his final shot at winning it before his incredible career draws to a close.
Who do you think will go further in the Champions League out of these two sides and why? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below!
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