4-3-3: Real Madrid predicted XI to face PSG

Real Madrid host Paris Saint-Germain on Valentine’s Day in the first leg of the most-anticipated UEFA Champions League second round tie.

With Zinedine Zidane’s side 17 points off the pace at the top of La Liga the French manager is under pressure to win this tournament for a third successive season, with many expecting that failure would lead to his departure.

Paris Saint-Germain are many people’s favourites to win this tournament for the first time in their history and are also odds on to progress from this tie over two legs with the bookmakers.

Zidane has one key important absentee with Dani Carvajal suspended at right-back, otherwise Real Madrid have all of their regulars available.  Here is the team I think we’ll see facing PSG:

Goalkeeper: Keylor Navas

The Chilean is Real Madrid’s goalkeeper in both La Liga and the Champions League and will start on Wednesday.  Keylor Navas can expect a very busy evening against Paris Saint-Germain’s lethal front three.

Defence: Nacho, Raphaël Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo

Nacho is expected to come in at right-back to deal with Neymar in the absence of Dani Carvajal.  The centre-back by trade will need support from midfield to keep the world’s most expensive player away from his team’s goal.  Inside him, Raphaël Varane has pace and strength to keep up with the Brazilian but will also have Edinson Cavani to deal with.  Both are on fire this season.  Sergio Ramos’ experience will be essential for Zidane’s side on Wednesday whilst Marcelo will need to be careful bombing forward in leaving space available for the pacey and lethal Kylian Mbappé.

Midfield: Casemiro, Luka Modrić, Toni Kroos

Whilst Paris Saint-Germain have a lethal front three, Real Madrid can win the battle in midfield.  Casemiro and Luka Modrić are good at winning the ball back for the Spanish giants with Marco Verratti and Adrien Rabiot looking to supply the expensive trio in front of them.

Attack: Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

Paris Saint-Germain have full-backs that like to bomb forward.  At right-back we know Dani Alves well whilst Layvin Kurzawa plays on the opposite side.  Centre-back Presnel Kimpembe is relatively inexperienced at this level if he gets the nod ahead of Thiago Silva to partner Marquinhos.  This could give an opportunity to Karim Benzema to find his goalscoring form again and don’t be surprised if Cristiano Ronaldo cuts inside the test the 22-year-old.  The Portuguese superstar scored in all six group stage matches and is one goal short of becoming the first player to reach 100 Champions League goals.

Here is the team: