The UEFA Champions League is back on Tuesday as the knockout stages begin, highlighted by the massive showdown at Parc de Princes as Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain host Real Madrid. Half of the round of 16 will play their first legs this week, with two matches on Tuesday and two more on Wednesday. Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Manchester City are also in action over the next couple days. As always, you can see all of the games live on CBS and Paramount+.
Here’s a look at how our experts think the matches will go with our predictions and analysis.
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Real Madrid
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 15 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | TV: (CBS/Paramount+)
Odds: PSG -102; Draw +270; Real Madrid +265 (via Caesars
One matchup to watch:Marco Verratti vs. Luka Modric
. The two remain increasingly important to their respective sides despite the Italian maestro’s fragility and the Croat master’s 36 years of age. Assuming both are fully fit and involved from the off, the battle between the two midfielders as part of a larger bid for supremacy in the middle of the park promises to be unmissable. Verratti warmed up for Modri by facing his compatriot Lovro Majer in the narrow win over Stade Rennais and it was absorbing to watch. PSG’s tactical plan is unlikely to involve passing Real to death so the Azzurri star will be key as ever to Mauricio Pochettino’s plans and the hosts’ overall hopes of progression
Most likely to score a goal: Kylian Mbappe.
If there was a game written for Mbappe to star home and away, it is this one. The French superstar will be the pre, mid and post-match focus around both legs and the chances of him taking center stage in at least one of these two showdown clashes are high.
Man of the Match pick: Marquinhos.
The Brazilian often reserves his world-class best form for these UCL nights and they do not come much bigger than this. Real have plenty of potential match winners too with Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior both traveling, but the Parisien captain has the potential to silence both and strong performance from the Brazilian would go a long way towards helping to secure a good opening result for the hosts.
Match prediction: PSG 2, Real Madrid
Although Real are the pre-match favorites, the French giants raise their game massively in the Champions League and this will be no different. This tie is likely to go all the way across both legs, but PSG may well draw first blood in Paris.
Sporting CP vs. Manchester City
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 15 | Time: 3 p.m. ET | TV: (Paramount+)
Odds: Sporting +1000; Draw +460; Man City -360 (via Caesars Sportsbook)