The champions of France and Germany will collide in the Champions League on Tuesday when Paris Saint-Germain face Bayern Munich in the first leg of their last-16 tie at Parc des Princes.
PSG are hoping 2023 is the year where they end their long wait for the Champions League trophy, while the Bavarians are dreaming of being crowned champions of Europe for the seventh time.
After being knocked out of the Coupe de France by Marseille, Christophe Galtier’s side were aiming to return to winning ways when they travelled to the principality to face Monaco on Saturday, but as it transpired, PSG returned to the capital empty-handed following a dismal 3-1 defeat with all four goals arriving in the first half.
The Parisians still boast a healthy five-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table, but losing two straight games is far from an ideal way to prepare for a European meeting with Bayern Munich – a side they lost to in the 2020-21 Champions League final.
PSG would have hoped to have faced a slightly easier opponent in the last-16, but despite finishing level on 14 points with Benfica, they had to settle for second place in the group, as they lost out to the Portuguese giants on away goals scored.
If the French champions are to avoid a second straight last-16 exit – they were beaten by eventual winners Real Madrid at this stage last season – then they will need to make the most of home advantage, and having won 12 and drawn three of their 15 home games this season, they will certainly be confident that they can take a lead to Germany.
The hosts have also won six of their previous Champions League home games at the Parc des Princes, claiming wins over the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Juventus in that period, while they have only lost one of their five home meetings against Bayern in the competition – losing 1-0 when the two sides last met in April 2021.
Bayern experienced something of a mini-crisis by their high standards when they returned from the winter break with three consecutive 1-1 draws, but a sense of normality has been restored in Bavaria in recent weeks.
Julian Nagelsmann’s free-scoring side racked up four goals in victories over Mainz and Wolfsburg in the DFB-Pokal and Bundesliga respectively, before they warmed up for their midweek Champions League game with a comfortable 3-0 win over Bochum at the weekend thanks to goals from Thomas Muller, Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry.
Their previous draws have allowed others to close the gap at the top of the Bundesliga table, with Union Berlin just one point adrift, while Borussia Dortmund are only three points away from Bayern, but their quest for an 11th straight Bundesliga title will have to be put on hold as they prepare to make the trip to Paris.
Bayern made light work of a tricky group – which included Barcelona and Inter Milan – as they progressed to the knockout rounds without dropping a single point, and they now have the chance to win their first seven games of a Champions League campaign for the second time, after previously doing so in the 2019-20 season.
The perennial German champions usually fare well at this stage of the competition, having progressed from the last-16 in nine of the last 10 seasons, including their last three European campaigns.
Lionel Messi missed the defeat to Monaco with a hamstring problem, but Galtier has stated that the World Cup winner will be fit to line up against Bayern on Tuesday, and he could be joined by Marco Verratti, who is also set to return from injury.
Kylian Mbappe took part in a training session on Sunday after missing the last three games with a thigh injury, but there is still doubt as to whether he will be fit enough to feature in the first leg.
While Renato Sanches and Nordi Mukiele are ruled out, PSG will be hoping that Fabian Ruiz can recover from a stomach virus, which kept him out of the Monaco defeat, to take his place in the starting lineup.
Achraf Hakimi, Nuno Mendes and Sergio Ramos dropped to the bench for Saturday’s game as Galtier kept one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League tie, but the trio are expected to join Marquinhos in the backline against Bayern.
As for the visitors, Yann Sommer was signed from Borussia Monchengladbach in January to replace Manuel Neuer, who is ruled out for the rest of the season, and Switzerland international will hope to mark his first Champions League appearance for Bayern with a clean sheet.
Ryan Gravenberch, Noussair Mazraoui, Lucas Hernandez and Sadio Mane remain sidelined, but Joshua Kimmich will return from suspension to partner Leon Goretzka in the centre of midfield.
Muller was forced off at half time on Saturday due to a calf issue, and although the player himself has claimed it is nothing serious, Nagelsmann may decide against taking any risks and leave the 33-year-old on the bench.
Paris Saint-Germain possible starting lineup:
Donnarumma; Hakimi, Marquinhos, Ramos; Mendes; Ruiz, Pereira, Verratti; Soler, Neymar, Messi
Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:
Sommer; Cancelo, De Ligt, Upamecano, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka, Sane, Musiala, Coman; Choupo-Moting