Real Madrid vs. PSG line, prediction

Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League match between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain is fascinating on so many levels. Lionel Messi coming to torment Real Madrid once again, plus Kylian Mbappé facing a Real Madrid side he’s likely to join this summer. 

I do think there is some value on Real Madrid to get a result in this first leg, especially since it was announced that Karim Benzema would play in this contest. 

Real Madrid, which has been on cruise control in La Liga play, has over-performed its expected goal (xG) numbers, but the level of competition in the Spanish top flight is leaps and bounds better than what PSG has been cruising through in Ligue 1 action. 

Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, left, plays the ball next to forward Lionel Messi during a training session at the club's Camp des Loges training ground in Saint-Germain-en-Laye on Feb. 14, 2022.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, left, plays the ball next to forward Lionel Messi.
AFP via Getty Images

Based on UEFA Coefficients, Spain boasts the second-most difficult league in Europe, while France comes in the fifth-most difficult league overall. 

It’s been a while, but we can’t forget how underwhelming the Parisians’ performance was in the Champions League group stage. What tends to happen with PSG — since it is used to being possession dominant in the French first division — is when it has to face a team like Manchester City or Bayern Munich, it tends to sit deeper and look to destroy teams on the counterattack. 

That’s obviously because the team has Messi, Mbappé and Neymar. That clearly didn’t work against Manchester City the past two seasons, though. PSG got lucky to get past Bayern Munich, plus even RB Leipzig gave it a ton of problems in transition. 

If we go back to last year’s UCL quarterfinal round, Real Madrid knocked out Liverpool over the two legs without controlling a large share of the possession. That said, it wouldn’t shock me if Madrid turns the table on PSG and lets it be the possession-dominant side, while looking to hit it on the counter. 

I have this match projected very close to a pick ’em, so I like Real Madrid getting +0.5 on the spread line at -120 odds to get a result in the opening leg. 

The play: Real Madrid +0.5 (-115).