5 questions as Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain hit their training grounds as the Champions League returns

The Champions League has returned and perhaps the tie of the Round of 16 is Real Madrid’s clash with Paris Saint-Germain.

Many would have expected to see these two teams competing against each other in the final, given the quality both clubs have at their disposal.

But, as fate would have it, one of the European giants will not be featuring in the quarter final of the this year’s competition; something neither team will want on their CV, meaning you can expect fireworks in both legs.

Here we present five questions for you to ponder ahead of the tie as Champions League royalty prepares to face off with the (ridiculously rich) new boys on the block.

1. Is this Paris Saint-Germain’s year?

Last year the Ligue 1 outfit looked the part. After advancing as runners-up in Group A, Paris Saint-Germain were drawn against European mammoths Barcelona, and looked to be in very big trouble.

But they approached the first leg of the last-16 tie with a fearlessness and confidence that saw them well and truly batter the Catalan side 4-0.

Kylian Mbappe was in good form in training
(Image: REX/Shutterstock)

Angel Di Maria arguably had the game of his life, netting two in the process, as Julian Draxler and Edinson Cavani completed the rout.

All PSG had to do at the Nou Camp was hang on, but they gave Barcelona far too much respect, and were punished in a game you had to see to believe.

Neymar led the unthinkable comeback for Barcelona, scoring twice very late on before Sergi Roberto netted the winner to send the Spaniard’s through.

Paris Saint-Germain are preparing for the biggest game of their season
(Image: REX/Shutterstock)

PSG responded to the defeat by signing the very man who knocked them out the competition for £198million. They also added Kylian Mbappe – the man who helped Monaco reach the semi-finals – to their ranks, meaning they are without doubt a force to be reckoned with this time round.

That said, boss Unai Emery is under a sensational amount of pressure to win PSG the trophy for the first time in their history this season. If he fails to at least get past Real Madrid, he’ll likely be given his marching orders.

2. Can Cristiano Ronaldo turn a corner?

He’s still one of the world’s best players – if not the world’s best player – even if he is having a poor season by his own dizzying standards.

Real Madrid won both La Liga and the Champions League last season – winning the latter for a second consecutive season; becoming the first club to do this in the modern era.

Cristiano Ronaldo is feeling confident
(Image: AFP)

This year Los Blancos are fourth in the table, a whopping 17 points behind bitter rivals Barcelona, who you’d think have La Liga all wrapped up this campaign.

Real Madrid cannot down tools domestically, but Zinedine Zidane will be well aware that his club’s performance in Europe will directly impact whether he still has a job in Madrid come the start of next season.

The Portuguese needs to be at his best against PSG
(Image: REX/Shutterstock)

The club legend will therefore be hoping his prized asset came rekindle his form in the Champions League; after all he is the competition’s all-time leading marksman, and he’s not going to want to get upstaged by Neymar now, is he?

3. Is togetherness key for PSG?

It wasn’t too long ago that Neymar was at loggerheads with Cavani, and there were claims he was looking for a way out of the club he signed for at the start of the season.

The Brazilian has since managed to keep himself out of the spotlight – at least in this negative regard – and PSG are reaping the benefits.

The Ligue 1 club appear to be a close-knit group
(Image: REX/Shutterstock)

They’re 12 points clear at the top of Ligue 1, and in a position to focus most of their efforts on the Champions League.

What’s more the group seem much more connected than perhaps they did earlier on in the season.

Unai Emery is under pressure to get a result
(Image: AFP)

They’re sensational three-pronged attack, which may just be the best in the world at the moment, have gelled and are firing on all cylinders.

This feel-good feeling could be exactly what the team needs to go all the way in the competition this season.

4. Is Zinedine Zidane feeling the pressure?

As discussed in point two, the Champions League is make or break for the Frenchman this season.

Zidane achieved the unthinkable when he won the competition back-to-back, but at Real Madrid you’re only as good as your last game.

Zinedine Zidane will be feeling the pressure ahead of the tie
(Image: REUTERS)

Madrid have been off the boil, and Zidane has to be feeling the pressure.

He chose not to strengthen his team in January, despite being linked to Premier League stars Eden Hazard and David De Gea – not that the pair would be able to play for Real Madrid in the Champions League had they signed.

Neymar helped knock PSG out of Europe last season
(Image: REX/Shutterstock)

He’ll be well aware of the importance of getting a result against PSG, and not just for Los Blancos’ fortunes in Europe.

A win against a team of that calibre could turn this mis-firing group into the world-beaters they are. Confidence is the key to football, after all.

5. Is Gareth Bale finally back for Los Blancos?

The Wales international has had a stop-start season blighted with injury.

Not only this but he has been linked with a move back to the Premier League, with Manchester United at the front of the queue of clubs willing to secure his signature.

But he’s back for Real Madrid, and he looks in brilliant shape.

Gareth Bale will be looking to shine in Europe
(Image: Getty Images Europe)

Not only this but he is in goalscoring form. He netted in Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey win over Numancia before bagging a double against Celta Vigo in La Liga.

He also netted a brace in his side’s 7-1 demolition of Deportivo.

Bale’s agent recently spoke out about his client’s future, ruling out a transfer. He told Tuttosport: “He is worth at least the same as Neymar.

Real Madrid will be hoping to turn their season around
(Image: REUTERS)

“But Gareth is very happy at Real Madrid – he loves the club. Gareth does not need Cristiano Ronaldo to leave, he is a star right now.”

Bale’s future is very much in his hands, and with Madrid in need of a hero, can he step up to the plate in the Champions League? Time will tell.

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