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Real Madrid v Paris St Germain – The key battles that will decide the tie

Champions League clash is a collision between two European heavyweights.

Real Madrid v Paris St Germain – The key battles that will decide the tie

Real Madrid welcome Paris St Germain to the Bernabeu on Wednesday for the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie.

The clash between two of Europe’s heavyweights pits some of the best strikers in world football against each other.

Here we look at how the front three compare in a game, which is live on BT Sport 3.

Gareth Bale (Real) v Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

Juventus v Real Madrid – UEFA Champions League – Final – Real Madrid Training and Press Conference – National Stadium
Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale has been in good goal-scoring form since retuning from injury (Mike Egerton/Empics)

Wales forward Bale is determined to show that his time in Madrid is not over. Bale’s biggest problem in Spain is the amount of time he has spent on the treatment table, with injury costing him another two months this season. But he has still scored nine goals and his pace and aerial prowess can trouble the best defenders. At 19, Mbappe is nine years younger than Bale and possesses identical explosive pace, if not the same defensive discipline. The French teenager has incredible dribbling skills and operates on either flank as he can go both ways. But he is particularly lethal cutting inside onto his right foot and showing the shooting ability which has brought him 13 goals this term.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real) v Neymar (PSG)

Paris Saint-Germain v Celtic – UEFA Champions League – Group B – Parc des Princes
Brazil striker Neymar joined Paris St Germain from Barcelona in a £198million world record deal last summer (Adam Davy/Empics)

Reports of Ronaldo’s decline have been greatly exaggerated. The Champions League’s record marksman has scored 23 goals in 28 games – two more than at the same stage last season, despite playing fewer minutes. The 33-year-old might shy defensive responsibilities but he remains a match-winner, particularly in the air and on the counter-attack. Neymar is more dangerous from set-pieces and there are many Madridstas who would like to see the Brazilian succeed the five-time Ballon d’Or winner at the Bernabeu. His trickery on the ball can be mesmeric and he has the vision to release team-mates at the right time. The only part of his game that can be questioned is his defensive contribution.

Karim Benzema (Real) v Edinson Cavani (PSG)

Soccer – UEFA Champions League – Group A – Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk – Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
Karim Benzema is under increasing pressure at Real Madrid (Nick Potts/Empics)

Now in his ninth season at Real, there are those who believe Benzema has worn out his welcome in Madrid. The 30-year-old France striker has managed only six goals all season and not scored in LaLiga since November. Benzema works hard and is an unselfish player, who is always aware of team-mates around him. But his finishing is not of the level of Cavani, even if the Uruguayan’s scoring record is embellished by the fact he plays in the weaker French league. Cavani is strong enough to hold off defenders and shoot powerfully from distance, but he can be careless in possession and his tendency to be caught offside often stops the flow of PSG attacks.

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