Champions League qualification continues on Wednesday with one of the more entertaining games featuring Real Madrid as they head to France to take on Ligue 1 powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain. PSG has completely dominated Ligue 1 play over the past two seasons. In 2017-2018 they finished 13 points ahead of second place AS Monaco. Last season, they finished 16 up on second place Lille. They’ve yet to achieve any separation just five games in to the French league schedule but they are in first place with a 4-0-1 record good for 12 points. They’ve scored 11 and conceded only two in league play for a +9 differential.
Real Madrid is in something of a rut and that isn’t making their supporters happy. Since winning the Primera Division title in 2016-2017 they’ve put up back to back third place finishes. In 2017-2018 they finished 3 points back of second place Atletico and 17 back of first place Barcelona. In 2018-2019 they finished 8 back of Atletico and 19 back of Barcelona. Four games in to the 2019-2020 season and Real finds themselves…in third place! They’re tied at 8 points with Athletic Bilbao but are just 1 back of Atletico and 2 back of Sevilla. Nothing has come easy for Real in La Liga play–they opened the season with a 3-1 win over Celta de Vigo but played two consecutive draws after that against Real Valladolid and Villareal. They did get a 3-2 win over Levante last time out.
PSG’s dominance in Ligue 1 at the moment is such that it’s hard to evaluate just how good they are. In the long haul, they’re the dominant side but they’ve had Rennes as their ‘thorn in the side’ of late. Rennes beat them in the second game of the season–salt in the wounds since Rennes also upset PSG in the Cup final last year. The Neymar situation has calmed down a bit in Paris but he won’t be available here due to a suspension for insulting Champions League officials. He did have this suspension cut down to two games so he’ll be back for the third fixture in Group A play against Brugge.
During the Champions League play one good way to begin your handicap is to assess the relative strength of the national leagues the teams compete in. There we’ve got to give Spain’s La Liga the edge over France’s Ligue 1. The last two times PSG and Real Madrid have played in Champions League action was two years ago when the Spanish side won both home and away. Look for a similar result here but we’ll take the 1/2 ball handicap to protect us against a draw.