MADRID: With Cristiano Ronaldo on one side and Neymar on the other, Wednesday's heavyweight Champions League showdown between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain sees two of the game's biggest global superstars collide.
Ronaldo, the current world player of the year, has rediscovered something like his best form just at the right time for Real.
PSG, meanwhile, are placing their hopes in Neymar, the world's most expensive player and a Ballon d'Or winner of the future, as they chase the European glory that has thus far eluded them.
The Brazilian left Barcelona for Paris to step out of Lionel Messi's shadow. But, exactly seven years Ronaldo's junior, he is already being talked about in the Spanish capital as a possible successor to the Portuguese.
So far Neymar's route to the Ballon d'Or has been blocked by the M
Real Madrid take on Paris St Germain tonight in the first-leg of the standout tie of the Champions League Round of 16. It’s a fixture that’s almost impossible to call.
Real Madrid are the two-time defending champions with the greatest record of all-time in the European Cup.
However they meet a side that have made winning the Champions League their top priority – and have backed up that ambition with wild spending in the transfer market.
In addition each team boasts a superstar arguably capable of dragging their team singlehanded to the trophy, with five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo lining up for Real Madrid and the world’s most expensive player Neymar turning out for PSG.
Ahead of the tie we’ve selected a combined XI from their star studded squads, with those two obviously making the cut.
See who else made it below…
Goalkeeper: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid) Keylor Navas in action
Alphonse Areola has done well to progress through PSG’s academy and into he first team considering the money being splashed around the Parc de Princes, however at 24 he’s not quite yet the finished article.
It means Keylor Navas gets in the side, despite Real Madrid permanently trying to replace him. It’s harsh on the Costa Rican who’s played a pivotal role in Real Madrid’s recent Champions League wins.
Defence: Marcelo (Real Madrid) Marquinhos (PSG) Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) Dani Alves (PSG) Despite now being 34-years-old Dani Alves continues to be a menace down the right hand side. And with his old Barcelona connections he’ll be trying extra hard to put Real Madrid out of the competition.
He’s joined at the back by Marquinhos who did more than his centre-back partner Tiago Silva to help PSG concede just four goals during the group stage.
Marquinhos is in the XI Sergio Ramos is a must in any Champions League XI if he’s an option – the Real Madrid captain always rises to the occasion both literally and metaphorically with the defender weighing in with the goals and spirit needed.
Marcelo’s effective assistance to the attack make him the obvious choice at left-back.
Midfield: Toni Kroos (Real Madrid) Marco Veratti (PSG) Luka Modric (PSG) Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have been overrunning the best midfields in Europe over the past couple of seasons and despite the former struggling for form this season he keeps Julian Draxler and Adrien Rabiot out the side. Luka Modric was the easiest selection of all
Marco Veratti is the one PSG midfielder with the youngster an increasingly impressive performer. He’s picked up a couple of assists and a couple of goals already in the competition.
Benzema missing out. Cristiano Ronaldo gets in because it’s Ronaldo – and he’s the top scorer in the tournament with nine goals from six group stage matches. Neymar and Edinson Cavani are equal second in the top scorer charts with six goals each. Both have been lethal on the European stage and between them have the power to deliver a knockout blow to Real Madrid.