In Summary
  • If domestic form is anything to go by, then PSG look in great shape.
  • They have won 14 out of 15 games since the end of the Champions League group stage, while Real flounder in fourth in La Liga, 17 points behind leaders Barcelona.

MADRID

Title-holders Real Madrid face Neymar's Paris Saint-Germain in a blockbuster Champions League clash on Wednesday with the French club needing to erase the painful memory of their collapse last time they came to Spain.

Propelled by the riches of their Qatari owners, PSG dream of following in Real's footsteps and becoming kings of Europe, a year after their humiliating exit in the last 16 at the hands of Barcelona.

On that occasion, having won 4-0 in the first leg, PSG collapsed in the return at the Camp Nou, going down 6-1.

"This is a chance for us to keep growing as a club by playing against the reigning champions and the team that has won the most titles. We want to get to that level," said PSG's Spanish coach Unai Emery ahead of Wednesday's last 16, first leg at the 81,000-seat Santiago Bernabeu, which kicks off at 1945 GMT.

Emery said his side — backed by 4,000 fans in the Spanish capital — had learnt from that defeat a year ago and are "better prepared now".

The pressure on him is immense, with PSG's owners unlikely to look kindly on a second consecutive exit at this stage of the Champions League given the extent of their investment at the start of this season.

The mastermind of Barcelona's stunning comeback that night, Neymar, is now a PSG player, having cost the French club a world-record 222 million euros ($264 million). They also committed 180 million euros to take 19-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe from Monaco.

"It is not easy to win a competition like this. We need to go through a lot of things on the way, but each season, and every day that goes by, we are working and getting closer to our objective," said PSG's Brazilian defender Marquinhos.

He will be partnered in the centre of PSG's defence by Presnel Kimpembe, sports daily L'Equipe claimed, with captain Thiago Silva being dropped.

HISTORY ON REAL'S SIDE

If domestic form is anything to go by, then PSG look in great shape.

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