Can PSG knock off the defending Champions?
Champion’s League Picks Record: 10-1 (3 pending)
1.Paris Saint-Germain vs. Real Madrid
The Crack heard around the world, as was Neymar’s foot injury. A fracture of the fifth metatarsal will keep the Brazilian out for the rest of this competition. A Miracle at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday is what the fans of the French side are petitioning for. Needing to overcome a 3-1 defeat in the first leg is the task at hand, and doing it without their superstar makes it even more of an intricacy. The odds indeed seem to agree, and PSG has relocated from the second favorite coming into the knockout stages (+400), to outside the top five and offering in the +1250 range to win the Champions League.
Perhaps, we can observe something magical as what the world witnessed in the 92/93 Quarterfinals. A Merengue side led by Ivan “Bam Bam” Zamorano, defeated the French foe, 3-1 in Madrid. They would then travel to Paris with the two-goal lead as will the Blancos Tuesday night; only a different outcome is what Ronaldo’s squad hopes for. The referee would tack on 6 minutes of injury time to a half that was out of control and even saw a coach receive a red card. PSG would need every one of those extra minutes, and Antoine Kombouaré’s injury-time goal would complete the comeback knocking out the Spanish side 4-1 (5-4 aggregate).
Replacing Neymar’s 26 goals and 16 assists type production is impossible, but Paris Saint-Germain’s depth allows them to experiment. Unai Emery’s side can split Argentine sensation Angel Di Maria out to the right side allowing him to cut into his dominant left foot giving them the added level of attack. Doing so would position Kylian Mbappé on the left, where he has said he prefers to play, enabling them to keep their 4-3-3 formation. Neymar’s ability to dribble in from wide positions is what put so much pressure on defenses and these two will be looking to replicate just that. Being able to beat their defenders out wide and attacking the defense while finding spaces on player runs will be the key to pulling off the unthinkable.
As for the defending Champions, they know what to expect, and they are not taking anything lightly. The term “Suffer” has been heard coming out of Spain.
“Starting with the scoreboard in your favor does not mean anything,” “You must be ready for the unexpected, in your favor or against. The only thing we must do is play a great game ourselves. We must just focus on that. We will have to suffer, but suffer and play our football.” – Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane
Experience in fixtures of this magnitude will conclusively be the difference. Both sides have prominent stars that have performed in important matches, but Real Madrid’s recent form the past few years in this competition gives them the tip of the hat. In a cagey match with tensions running rampant, a mental mistake by either side will open things up. Madrid will absorb the attack on the French side, but the counter-attacking abilities of Ronaldo’s crew will cause PSG’s defense havoc. The longer the game goes with Paris Saint-Germain off the score sheet, the more they will have to gamble and push up. Real Madrid will have chances to score, and their experience will see them tally in tomorrows match. Although we have the PSG to advance future pending, the loss of Neymar will be too much to overcome the two-goal deficit.
Real Madrid +.5 +104
Real Madrid +1 -156
Over 3.5 -119
Liverpool Vs. FC Porto
No angle on this game as the 5-0 first leg puts too many questions into this match. Will Porto come out fully motivated or are they in a dream crusher situation and won’t play to the best of their abilities? Same can be asked with Liverpool, will the Red’s come out and dominate as they did in the first leg, or will they back off and coast into the quarterfinals with a marquee matchup vs. Machester United on deck Saturday.