Round of 16 Preview: Can PSG’s ‘Big Three’ make the difference against Real Madrid?


Embed from Getty Images

PSG prepare to face Real Madrid on Tuesday in the Round of 16 in the Champions League as the Parisians continue their search for European glory.

All eyes will be on Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, and Neymar as PSG’s ‘Big Three’ will be expected to live up to the expectations of their fans.

Mbappe to Madrid?

Embed from Getty Images

The French forward is coming towards the end of his current contract at PSG and has been linked with a move to Real Madrid on a free deal in the summer. A move to Madrid seems inevitable for Mbappe as he grew up idolising Cristiano Ronaldo and learning about the impact of Zinedine Zidane.

When asked about a potential move to the Spanish capital by Amazon Prime, Mbappe said:

“Have I made a decision over my future? No.

“Playing against Real Madrid changes a lot of things. Although I have freedom to do what I want in this moment, I am not going to speak with a rival or do that type of thing.

“I am concentrating on winning against Real Madrid. And then we will see what happens.”

The 23-year-old has played against Madrid in the Champions League on three occasions already. When the sides met in the Last 16 during the 2017/18 season, Mbappe failed to score in both games but he scored against Los Blancos in the group stages two seasons later.

Mbappe played a pivotal role in getting PSG through the group stages this season. He scored four times and picked up four assists in the six group fixtures. He has also scored in back-to-back games ahead of the first leg.

Messi: El Classico’s king

Embed from Getty Images

After leaving Barcelona at the end of last season, Madrid fans would have hoped to wait a bit longer before having to face the prospect of Messi again. The Argentine is the all-time top scorer in El Classico history, scoring 26 goals against Real Madrid over the years. In 45 games against the opponents, he also assisted his teammates 14 times.

Despite his lengthy career at Barcelona, Messi only faced Madrid once in the Champions League beforehand. In the 2010/11 season, Messi’s two goals made the difference between the two sides as Barcelona beat their rivals 3-1 on aggregate.

One of the goals he scored became an iconic Champions League goal. Sergio Busquets laid the ball off to Messi around the halfway line and the winger dribbled past five Real Madrid players, including now teammate Sergio Ramos, before slotting the ball past Iker Casillas in goal.

Messi has scored five times in the competition this season and enters the game on good form, being directly involved in four goals in his last three games.

Neymar’s redemption

Embed from Getty Images

After the recent release of his documentary, Neymar: The Perfect Chaos, it is clear that Neymar is determined to win the Champions League at PSG.

The Brazilian’s time in Paris has been underwhelming despite the accolades he has achieved. He has struggled with injuries, often around the knockout rounds of the competition, and has failed to win the trophy that has eluded him since leaving Barcelona.

After wanting to leave the French capital, a move that never came to fruition, fans began to turn on Neymar and questioned his commitment to the club. This changed during the 2019/20 season. After the campaign was temporarily halted due to the Covid pandemic, the 30-year-old returned in brilliant physical condition. In his documentary, it showed the work he put in during the break, and club captain Marquinhos described how he was levels above everyone else at training when they prepared for the Champions League quarter-finals.

Neymar was influential in helping PSG progress to the final of the tournament that season before Bayern Munich took the spoils in Lisbon. The winger was visibly heartbroken at full-time but the addition of Messi, Ramos, and Nuno Mendes can help PSG achieve European glory this season.

Follow us on Twitter @ProstInt 


About Author

Comments are closed.