Tuesday. 26.09.2023

Paris Saint-Germain will resume their bid for a first Champions League crown on Tuesday when they meet the team who have been kings of Europe more than any other - mighty Real Madrid.

PSG will host the intriguing first leg which kicks off the last 16 at the same time as Sporting Lisbon welcome Manchester City. Red Bull Salzburg then host Bayern Munich on Wednesday alongside a meeting of former winners between Inter Milan and Liverpool.

But PSG v record 13-time champions Real is arguably the tie of the round with the beaten finalists in 2020 hoping to take the next step towards justifying the massive funds spent on their squad by Qatari investors in search of the greatest prize of all.

Former Real defender Sergio Ramos was one of several stars recruited on a free transfer last year but injury has limited his contribution this season.

Veteran Lionel Messi, formerly of Barcelona, will line up for PSG against his old rivals but it is the younger Kylian Mbappe who could grab more headlines with the France World Cup winner continually linked with a move to Real Madrid.

Mbappe grabbed the injury-time winner over Rennes on Friday which kept PSG massively clear at the top of Ligue 1 to effectively leave the Champions League as their main target for the rest of the term.

"We’ve scored a lot of goals in the final minutes and that shows that one of this team’s strengths is that we always fight to the end," said defender Achraf Hakimi, formerly of Real.

"It’s very positive for the team because it shows we have a lot of character and a special talent to win."

Real Madrid tops La Liga

Real also top the Primera Division but by only four points after a weekend goalless draw against Villarreal.

"Now we’re heading into what is the most beautiful time in football," said midfielder Casemiro. "We have a coaching staff who are working with us brilliantly and guide us always. We want to win everything we can."

Bayern and Liverpool both won all six matches in the group stage but the German giants suffered a 4-2 meltdown at Bochum on Saturday, though hold a six-point lead in the Bundesliga.

Coach Julian Nagelsmann will demand a change after his side were "just too passive" in the defeat.

Six-time champions Liverpool meanwhile visit three-time winners Inter in a rare meeting between the two European giants.

Liverpool won the last clash between the pair in 2008, a last 16 tie which would have done little to ease the pain of a controversial semi-final loss in Milan in the previous encounter - all the way back in 1965.

First legs for Chelsea v Lille, Villarreal v Juventus, Benfica v Ajax and Atletico Madrid v Manchester United take place February 22-23. Second legs begin March 8 with the final in St Petersburg on May 28.

Champions League returns with Real Madrid test for Paris Saint-Germain