Los Blancos against Neymar and Co in the knockout stage
The Champions League knockout stage is about to start, with the defending champions, Real Madrid
, are set to host the French heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain. Los Blancos are suffering this season in La Liga, and they have not been very convincing in the group stages either, having ended up second in their group behind Tottenham Hotspur.
Zinedine Zidane is under severe pressure, following rather disappointing team performances, and the clash with PSG could prove decisive for his future at Real Madrid bench. The media in Spain and England have already stated Mauricio Pochettino and Jurgen Klopp as his potential successors.The Meringues have lost hope of closing the gap on Barcelona, and falling out of the Champions League would be a total disaster for the eleven-time European champions.
On the other hand, Paris Saint-Germain have almost secured the title in the French Ligue 1, as they have a comfortable twelve-point lead over second-placed Monaco. However, lifting the Champions League trophy is the main objective for the PSG bigwig, Nasser Al-Khelaifi. The wealthy Qatari businessman is determined to bring his club at the top of Europe, and after investing almost £400 million last summer, he will hardly accept failure.
With the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Angel Di Maria, Edinson Cavani, and the world`s most expensive player, Neymar Jr, the French giants certainly have one of the strongest attacking ranks in Europe. Having bagged 76 goals this season, PSG are the second most efficient club in the top five leagues, with only Manchester City managed to score more than them.
Although the bookies have named Real a slight favorite ahead of the first leg, the away side will not come to Madrid to defend. Unai Emery`s team doesn’t know how to play defensive football, something they`ve already shown last year against Barcelona at Camp Nou when they dropped four-goal lead. Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema against Neymar, Mbappe, and Cavani guarantee us a spectacle, and for those who are football fans and like Gambling and playing online casino games, they can check the best party casino welcome bonus
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Two very attacking minded teams with the fierce firepower are the best invitation for people who like to bet on goals. We can expect an attractive and entertaining game, possibly with a couple of goals on both ends.
It is clear that Zidane has troubles motivating his players after such an impressive two seasons, but he needs to put maximum efforts to shake things up a bit if looking to advance to the next stage of the competition. He still has Cristiano Ronaldo at his disposal, who despite experiencing an awful season by his standards, is still one of the best players in the world. Sergio Ramos and his fellow companions will encounter perhaps the deadliest attack of the competition, and considering recent defensive displays provided by Marcelo and Dani Carvajal, the home supporters have all reasons to be worried.
But, you can never write Real Madrid off no matter how bad they look now and it would be foolish from the visitors to underestimate their opponents based on some recent performances.
Meanwhile, their arch-rivals, Barcelona, will face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in their first leg. The Premier League giants had a dreadful last couple of weeks, having recorded two straight defeats to Bournemouth and Watford in which they`ve conceded seven goals. Although Philippe Coutinho can`t play for the Blaugrana in the elite competition; La Liga leaders are huge favorites to win this battle
. Antonio Conte apparently has `some disagreements` with the Blues` bosses over the January transfer market `catastrophe` as Chelsea lost the race for Virgil Van Dijk to Liverpool, and Conte`s great wish, Alexis Sanchez, eventually ended up at Old Trafford. Given the fact that the atmosphere in the dressing room is quite turbulent, the former Juventus coach will have to use his authority to boost team morale to even stand a chance against the Catalan giants.