3 Individual battles that will decide PSG vs. Real Madrid on Tuesday

Real Madrid vs. PSG, Kylian Mbappe (Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Real Madrid vs. PSG, Kylian Mbappe (Photo by Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) /
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Casemiro, Real Madrid
Casemiro of Real Madrid (Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

3. Lionel Messi versus Casemiro

Lionel Messi may have shifted bases in the summer, yet his battles with Real Madrid continue. He has been a perpetual thorn in the flesh for Real Madrid. 26 goals, 14 assists, and two hattricks against Real Madrid is an outstanding record. Yet over the past few seasons, Madrid’s defense has been able to diffuse his impact. Ironically Messi has an equal number of goals as Cristiano Ronaldo in the El Clasico since Ronaldo left Real Madrid – Zero.

A major reason for his relative ineffectiveness versus Real Madrid in the last few years is down to one man: Casemiro. He follows Messi like a shadow no matter where he goes on the field. Casemiro’s tackles and ball interceptions have often made life difficult for Messi who likes to roam around the pitch with freedom.

A similar dogged effort is required from the best defensive midfielder in the world to stop Lionel Messi. Even though Messi’s performances in Paris are no way near his usual best, he possesses a threat. There is no denying the genius of Messi even as a rival fan.

After an inconsistent start to the season, Casemiro has started looking his usual self in the past few games. His on-ball skills are still dodgy. But we cannot discount the solidity he brings to the side. There is no better player in the world than Case who can hide in plain sight whenever he is on a second yellow card. Such deception is mandatory from Casemiro as he is on four yellow cards and will miss the next leg if he is given yellow once again.

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The match on Tuesday will be a test for both veterans. Messi will look to exploit any chink in Real Madrid’s defense to assist Mbappe. On the other hand, Casemiro will look to shun Messi and keep him out of the equation to suffocate the PSG attack. A fascinating battle awaits.