After the embarrassing and controversial mistake which led to the Champions League last 16 draw being redone, Real Madrid were drawn to face Paris Saint-Germain in what promises to be one of the most epic and intriguing encounters in recent years.
There is no shortage of bad blood between the two clubs, while there may not have been another tie this century with as many fascinating storylines.
Mbappe, already a Real Madrid player?
By the time the two clubs face off in February, it’s possible that Kylian Mbappe‘s future could already be officially pledged to Real Madrid. As things stand, his current PSG contract expires at the end of the season, meaning that from January he will be able to negotiate with other clubs with a view to a summer move as a free agent.
The return of Sergio Ramos
Fitness depending, the tie could provide the chance for Sergio Ramos to play again at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. There’s no denying his legendary status, but he didn’t have the cleanest exit from the club, so it could be interesting to see what sort of reception he gets from the crowd.
Messi back at the Bernabeu
Another familiar figure, but for very different reasons and inspiring very different emotions, for the Bernabeu crowd will be Lionel Messi. The Argentine knows a thing or two about playing Real Madrid, who probably won’t be pleased to see him back so soon after leaving LaLiga Santander.
Real Madrid‘s pursuit of Mbappe has further damaged the already ropey relationship between the clubs at boardroom level. Whether or not Florentino Perez and Nasser Al-Khelaifi sit down to watch the game together or have a meal beforehand remains to be seen.
Keylor Navas is fondly remembered
Another connection between the playing squads is Keylor Navas, who will be sure to be well received by the Real Madrid fans, as he was the last time the two clubs met.
Achraf at home
PSG right-back Achraf Hakimi came through Real Madrid‘s youth system but found first-team football almost impossible to come by, so he left, first to Borussia Dortmund then Inter. He may well feel he has a point to prove after having to leave the club to establish himself as an elite level player.
An uneasy return for Di Maria
Yet another former Real Madrid player in the French club’s ranks is Angel di Maria, but the Argentine forward didn’t leave the club on the best of terms and it recently came to light that he almost joined Barcelona.
Leonardo’s attacks on Real Madrid
PSG‘s sporting director Leonardo has been very critical of Real Madrid‘s attempts to sign Mbappe, going so far as to call on FIFA to sanction them. He may be even less welcome than Al-Khelaifi in the presidential box.