PSG bid to 'change history' against Real Madrid
Dani Alves is hoping to help "change the history" of Paris Saint-Germain when they host Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League last 16 on Tuesday aiming to overturn a 3-1 deficit from the first leg.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
UEFA Champions League last 16, second leg
Paris Saint-Germain - Real Madrid CF (Real lead 3-1 from first leg)
PSG are right up against it coming into the return at the Parc des Princes after losing in Spain last month despite Adrien Rabiot giving them the lead. They are also without Neymar Jr, who is recovering from foot surgery back in Brazil.
It is therefore going to require a special performance to avoid a second consecutive exit from the Champions League at this stage, after their loss to FC Barcelona in the last 16 a year ago.
"One of the biggest motivations for me coming here was to help change the history of the club. That is what we need to do. We can't think twice about it - the first thing we have to do is believe, and then we need to go out and do it," said Alves, who arrived in Paris last summer from Juventus.
The Ligue 1 Conforama leaders are counting on their formidable record at home, where they are unbeaten since March 2016, before Unai Emery became coach. There has been a great European comeback against Real before, too: Paris lost 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in the UEFA Cup quarter-final first leg in 1993, but won 4-1 in the return with Antoine Kombouaré scoring a 94th-minute goal to take them through.
'Opportunity' for Emery
"It's a very important moment. The Champions League is a very clear objective for the club," said Emery. "Every match is important, but this is a unique moment, for all the PSG supporters, and I think also for all of France, all those in France and Paris who like football. It's a great opportunity to take a step forward."
A victory would help erase the bitter memory of their exit at the same stage last year against Real's great rivals Barcelona, when they lost 6-1 at the Camp Nou after a 4-0 victory at the Parc des Princes in the first leg.
What that tie showed, though, is that anything can happen.
"Tomorrow after the game is going to be difficult for one of the teams, but that's football," said Real coach Zinedine Zidane, back in his home country as a coach for the first time. "What we have to do is play a good game of football. We will have to suffer, but suffer and play football."
Paris might also take heart from the fact that Real's last elimination at this stage of the Champions League, in 2010, came against a French club in Olympique Lyonnais.
Ángel Di María is set to start for the hosts in the absence of Neymar, while Thiago Silva and Thiago Motta are both hoping to be handed berths in the line-up. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are hoping to return for Real after spells on the sidelines with knee and thigh problems.
Paris Saint-Germain: Areola; Alves, Marquinhos, T. Silva (c), Kurzaw; Verratti, Motta, Rabiot; Di Maria, Cavani, Mbappé
Real Madrid CF: Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos (c), Marcelo; L. Vazquez, Modric, Casemiro, Asensio; Benzema, C. Ronaldo