UEFA Champions League returns with PSG thinking of another Valentines’ Day Massacre

PSG [Photo: Soccer Laduma]

The big boys will be separated from the small boys when the round of 16 of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League kicks off on Tuesday, February 13. As it was last year, PSG have a mouth-watering prospect on Valentines’ Day as they travel to Madrid to face defending champions, Real Madrid. Last year, the Parisians hosted and massacred Barcelona 4-0 but they still fell short.

Starting it off on Tuesday will be a miserly Juventus hosting an up-and-coming Spurs side brimming with confidence.

Juventus v Tottenham @Allianz Stadium on Feb 13

Will a miserly Juve defence successfully stifle Spurs’ attack?

Juventus are second in Italy, one point behind Napoli but Tottenham are fourth and 20 points behind Manchester City. Juventus have Gonzalo Higuain while Tottenham boast Harry Kane. Higuain has scored 18 goals in all competitions while Kane has scored 32.

Kane and Spurs will come up against a Giorgio Chiellini-led Juve defence that has not conceded any goals in 2018 though Andrea Barzagli is a major doubt having injured his calf against Atalanta last Friday.

The stats for the two teams in their six group matches looks like a mirror image until you get to the goals scored column where Spurs have scored more than double that of Juve, who will be further hampered by the absences of Paulo Dybala, Blaise Matuidi, and Juan Cuadrado.

Does this mean Spurs have a chance in Turin on Tuesday? Definitely! With Kane, they will have a chance because he is a match winner. In his last five matches, he has scored three goals – very important goals at that. The goal at Newport ensured a replay in the FA Cup [a replay they won]; the goal against Liverpool won a point and the goal against Arsenal won all three points.

Max Allegri’s Juve still have enough players to do damage in their first ever meeting while Mauricio Pochettino can call on his full squad to do the business. A very intriguing match awaits us.

Words from the Press Conferences

“He [Giorgio Chiellini] is an amazing defender. My first start for England, the first five minutes he made a challenge and I probably had a dead leg for ten minutes. It was a good welcome to international football. Not many people expected us to get through from the group stage but we won the group instead, so we must be confident against Juventus. At the end of the day, we will be eleven against eleven on a football field.” – Harry Kane

“Honestly I don’t remember but he is a top striker so it’s very likely that it really happened. I would not be surprised if I did. I’m sincere; I think it will be 50/50. We don’t think to be favourites but in the locker room, I can see a great desire to start this knockout stage. We are in a good moment.” –Giorgio Chiellini

Champions League Stats

Stat Juventus Tottenham
Successful Passes 2683 2218
Pass Completion [%] 86 83
Chances Created 65 66
Total Shots 84 83
Shot Accuracy [%] 57 57
Goals Scored 7 15
Goals Conceded 5 4

 

Real Madrid v PSG @Santiago Bernabeu @8:45pm on Feb 14

No love lost between traditionalists and the nouveau rich

Los Blancos cannot feel totally confident of a victory against PSG on Valentines’ Day because the French side scored more goals in the group stage, conceded less and more importantly they have Neymar in their ranks. As a genuine front three, Neymar, Edinson Cavani, and Kylian Mbappe will pose multiple threats against a not so sure-footed Madrid back line.

Toni Kroos expects the game to be a hard one but he told Marca – “It is about trusting ourselves in what we do. That will be the most important thing.” Can Zinedine Zidane trust Karim Benzema not to miss gilt-edged chances? Can he trust Keylor Navas not to make any stupid mistakes? It will all be about the defending champions not self-destructing in the face of PSG’s multifaceted team, who may have insider knowledge from former Barcelona players.

After a scrappy 1-0 away win over Toulouse, courtesy of Neymar’s 27th goal of the season, Unai Emery said the match was good preparation for the trip to Madrid as Cavani was rested. “It Is good preparation, for the rhythm and the confidence. We played well and we’re going to be able to prepare for Real well.”

 

Stat Real Madrid PSG
Successful Passes 3486 3265
Pass Completion [%] 90 89
Chances Created 101 77
Total Shots 124 102
Shot Accuracy [%] 56 52
Goals Scored 17 25
Goals Conceded 7 4

 

Other Matches

Tuesday – Basle v Man. City

Wednesday – Porto v Liverpool


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