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Madrid and PSG vie for 1st place in Champions League group

After drab 0-0, Real Madrid and PSG play again with group lead on line in Champions League

Madrid and PSG vie for 1st place in Champions League group

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- After a scoreless dud in their first meeting, fireworks are hopefully in store when Cristiano Ronaldo's Real Madrid hosts Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Ronaldo appears more than ready to add to his competition record 83 goals after scoring 13 times in as many games this season to help Madrid overcome a spate of injuries that has knocked out strike partners Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.

PSG leads the group, level on seven points with Madrid. A win by either side would give it command of first place. A victory would also qualify the winner for the round of 16 if Swedish team Malmo fails to take points at bottom club Shakhtar Donetsk.

Here are some things to know about Tuesday's Group A matches:

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WHO'S IN GOAL?

With Keylor Navas between the posts, Madrid has yet to concede a goal in the competition through three matches.

But the Costa Rica goalkeeper missed Saturday's 3-1 win over Las Palmas due to a muscle pull in his right leg. He was replaced by newcomer Kiko Casilla for an easy win that kept Madrid at the top of the Spanish league standings.

Navas' superb start to the season has so far made Madrid fans forget both departed club hero Iker Casillas and David de Gea, who the club tried to buy from Manchester United only for a late fax to ruin the deal on the deadline.

"(PSG) has great players that can complicate the match for you at any moment," Navas said. "I hope I can keep my good run alive."

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DI MARIA MAKES RETURN

Angel Di Maria will make his return to the Santiago Bernabeu for the first time since leaving Madrid two seasons ago for an ill-fated campaign at Manchester United. He is now finding his confidence and form after a second high-profile transfer to PSG.

His former teammates know that his playmaking skills can be decisive, as they were in the 2014 Champions League final when the Argentine was named man of the match for Madrid.

"He can hurt us, we're going to have to watch him ... his goals, his dribbling," Benzema said.

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BLANC'S CREDENTIALS PUT TO TEST

Since taking over from Carlo Ancelotti, Laurent Blanc has won everything with PSG on the domestic stage.

After achieving an unprecedented treble last season with the French capital team, Blanc and his players got off to an even better start this term, leading their closest rival by 10 points after 12 league matches.

But the former France coach has no guarantee that his contract will be extended when it expires next June. PSG's Qatari owners have one big goal for their club -- winning the Champions League -- and Blanc has been unable to deliver what they want so far.

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INJURY DOUBTS

Even though Bale and Benzema are expected to return soon, coach Rafa Benitez may opt for caution with league matches at Sevilla and against Barcelona looming.

Madrid was also without James Rodriguez, Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal due to injury on Saturday.

For PSG, defender David Luiz is set to return after nearly one month, but a bout of conjunctivitis will likely rule out midfielder Javier Pastore while defender Marquinhos has yet to recover from a thigh problem.

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NO LUCK IN EUROPE

Shakhtar and Alex Teixeira just can't stop scoring ... except in Europe, that is.

A spectacular return of 18 goals in just 12 league games from the Brazilian midfielder has propelled Shakhtar to the top of the Ukrainian league standings.

At the same time, however, Shakhtar has failed to take a point or score a single goal in the Champions League.

Tuesday's game against Malmo will be about revenge for a 1-0 loss last time out and gaining the upper hand in what is now a battle for third place and a ticket to the Europa League.


Updated : 2021-09-19 20:30 GMT+08:00