Real Madrid: 5 most important players vs. PSG in the first leg of the Round of 16

Real Madrid (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Real Madrid (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /
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Real Madrid
Real Madrid (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

One of the most exciting matches of the season is here! The much-awaited Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League 2021-22, pitting Real Madrid against PSG!

In the initial draw on the 13th of December, Real Madrid was set to face Benfica in the round of 16. But due to some problems in the software, UEFA issued a statement stating that a re-draw will take place on the same day and thus Real Madrid drew PSG.

After the draw took place, this was the clash every football fan set his or her eyes on. And why would not anyone love to see this game? After all, it was Real Madrid facing their former captain Sergio Ramos. But that is not all. The tensions between the two clubs heated when Real Madrid made some record-setting bids on Kylian Mbappe, the player Real Madrid sees as its future.

The efforts to sign the Frenchman did not go to vain. With his contract expiring in the summer, Mbappe is yet to decide his future club. But as things stand, Kylian is expected to chase his dream of playing in Santiago Bernabeu and is expected to join the Spanish capital on a free transfer, thus saving Los Blancos around €200 million.

It would be interesting to see how Kylian Mbappe plays against his dream club. Other than this, Achraf Hakimi, Keylor Navas and Angel Di Maria are three more former Madridistas who would play a key role for PSG in this fixture. And let’s not forget, Real Madrid would also face its rivals (the former Barcelona stars) Lionel Messi and Neymar Junior.

It is a very tempting match and its first leg will be played at PSG’s home ground Parc De Princes. It will be a crucial game for Los Blancos in their race for the 14th European Cup and could very well decide the fate of Carlo Ancelotti as Real Madrid’s manager.

PSG is one of the best teams in the competition with a very strong squad full of big names and a win against the French club can be a morale booster for many players.

But to beat this team, Real Madrid will have to be 100% focused on the game and every player will have to be on top of his game. Any mistakes can prove to be very costly to the club. So, who are the five most important players for this fixture?

Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Madrid, Toni Kroos
Athletic Bilbao vs. Real Madrid, Toni Kroos (Photo by Ion Alcoba/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

CM Toni Kroos

Toni Kroos will be one of the most important players on the pitch for Real Madrid. If there is one player who can provide creativity in attack in difficult circumstances, it will be Toni Kroos.

Despite having a slow start to the season, the German has settled in the team pretty well and has not let anyone steal his position in the starting 11 of the team.

This season, Toni Kroos has played 26 games (25 started and 1 as a substitute) in all competitions for Real Madrid and has proved his worth almost every time. So far this season, the German has managed to score 3 goals with an average of 2 shots a game. He has 3 assists in his name and contributes in attack with 2.1 key passes a game. The 32-year-old knows how to control the game by passing and switching the play, which is evident by his 95% pass accuracy and 8.8 long balls a game.

Apart from that, Ancelotti might demand a little more from Kroos tomorrow. Achraf Hakimi is a top right back and offers a lot of pace to help his team defend against fast wingers. It will be the case tomorrow too, Hakimi will start and Pochettino will ask him to cover Vinicius Junior as much as he can to nullify the threat posed by the Brazilian.

It was a similar case last season against Liverpool. Klopp had all the plans in his mind to stop Vinicius from breaking Liverpool’s defence in the form of Trent Alexander Arnold, and yet Zinedine Zidane had a secret code to break Liverpool’s back. It will be a similar case in this game, and Carlo Ancelotti might demand Toni Kroos to send a similar long ball to Vinicius to break the deadlock as soon as possible to open up the game.

Apart from that, Toni Kroos’ creativity and accuracy from set-pieces will be tested a lot and he will have to be on top of his game with his ball distributing ability.

It will be a very long day at the office, but I hope the German Wizard has his secret magic wand to help Real Madrid in those difficult circumstances.