PSG vs Real Madrid: Visitors' experience set to frustrate the hosts

James Eastham looks at the odds and best bets ahead of this mouthwatering Champions League Last 16 clash at Parc des Princes on Tuesday night...

Neymar set to feature

After 10 weeks on the sidelines through injury, Neymar may return to action here, but is expected to be on the bench. Sergio Ramos is out so Presnel Kimpembe will start alongside Marquinhos at the heart of PSG's back four. In all other positions the hosts ought to be at full strength.

Real Madrid are waiting to hear whether Karim Benzema will be fit enough to start. He's the only major injury concern for the visitors as they prepare to travel to Paris.

Odds on PSG win look too short

Paris-Saint-Germain's quest to finally win the Champions League continues and they are favourites to claim a first-leg lead against Real Madrid on Tuesday night.

Mauricio Pochettino's hosts are 2.08 to win on the night, with Real Madrid 3.7 to secure an away win at Parc des Princes. The Draw is 3.85.

Are the odds on a PSG win justified? The short answer is no. There are still concerns about Paris' inability to dominate games, to control matches territorially, and their over-reliance on Kylian Mbappe.

Paris hope to welcome back Idrissa Gueye for his first start since returning triumphantly from the African Cup of Nations. His presence alongside Marco Verratti in midfield will be crucial.

Yet Real look strong in midfield, where Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are set to line-up alongside Casemiro. With those three working as a unit, there's a good chance Paris' supply line to their forwards - Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi and Mbappe - will be stifled.

In all competitions this season, Paris' record is W23-D8-L3. In 2022 their record is W5-D2-L0. Those are fine figures, but PSG have rarely played well, and rarely faced opponents with as much experience as Real have in their ranks.

In manager Carlo Ancelotti, Real have a wily European strategist, and Real are a solid W6-D2-L1 in all competitions since the start of the year. They may not be the European force they once were, but they have a huge amount of experience, and look capable of frustrating PSG.

Mbappe in stunning form

If Benzema is below his best because of the hamstring injury that has curtailed his involvement over the past 10 days, however, that might deal Real Madrid's hopes a fatal blow. The visitors will need Benzema at his best as PSG have an equally gifted striker of their own at the other end of the pitch.

Mbappe has scored six times in six starts in 2022. He is playing so well he surely now needs to be included in conversations referencing Benzema and the likes of Mohamed Salah about who is the best player in the world right now.

Mbappe will be the main danger man for the hosts. It would be foolish to bet against the 23-year-old finding the net given the regularity with which he has posted decisive performances for Paris.

Mbappe is 2.1 in the Anytime Goalscorer market, with Messi, surprisingly, at shorter odds of 1.83. Benzema is 2.7 in the same market. For Real, the favourite is Gareth Bale, available at 2.6, although he's not expected at the time of writing to be in Real's starting line-up.

Back in the Match Odds market, however, the smart selection would be to oppose the hosts. The odds on a PSG win are the market's way of saying PSG have a 48 per cent chance of winning on the night.

Give the frequently disjointed nature of Paris' play, and the vast experience in the opposition ranks, we're happy to take a contrary point of view.

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