Paris Saint-Germain’s quest for a first-ever Champions League crown resumes when they host Spanish side Real Sociedad in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
PSG just about squeezed through to the knockout stage for the 12th season in a row after finishing second in Group F, just ahead of AC Milan, with a record of two wins, two draws and two defeats.
They have moved ominously 11 points clear at the top of the Ligue 1 table, though, and will expect to get the better of goal-shy Sociedad over two legs.
Sociedad finished top of Group D thanks to a matchday six goalless draw at last season’s beaten Champions League finalists Inter Milan.
It is the first time La Real have reached the last 16 of the continent’s biggest club competition in 20 years and taking on the experienced PSG represents a very difficult task for Imanol Alguacil’s side.
Injuries have affected them badly in recent weeks and, ahead of the trip to Paris, the visitors have not scored in their last 384 minutes of football.
PSG are favourites to secure a first-leg lead at the Parc des Princes and they are fancied to do it without conceding in midweek.
Les Parisiens have only been beaten once at home in all competitions this season and go into this last-16 clash on the back of a run of three straight victories, seeing off Strasbourg and Lille in the league, while sandwiched in between was a French Cup success over Brest.
Luis Enrique’s side have struggled to keep clean sheets of late, with just three shutouts achieved in their last 10 games, but Sociedad have had major problems scoring goals recently so this could well end up in a home victory to nil.
The visitors have failed to score in any of their last four games, drawing 0-0 three times against Vallecano, Girona and Mallorca, before going down 1-0 to Osasuna on Saturday at home - a result that leaves them seventh in La Liga.
Sociedad also failed to score in their last two group games in this competition, with the 0-0 result at the San Siro coming after a familiar goalless draw at home to Salzburg.
Mbappe was rested for PSG’s 3-1 win over Lille at the weekend so the France international should be raring to go for this big European clash.
The 25-year-old is enjoying another goal-laden campaign, with 30 goals so far in 29 appearances in all competitions for PSG throughout 2023/24, including three in the Champions League group stage.
The striker has attempted 22 shots in his past five appearances and his accuracy remains clear for all to see as 15 of those have been on target.
Mbappe usually delivers for his club when the important games come around and it would be no surprise to see him amongst the goals again on Wednesday as he looks to add to his tally of 43 career Champions League goals.
Igor Zubeldia has been in frequent trouble with referees this season, picking up a squad-high eight yellow cards in La Liga so far for Sociedad.
He was also booked twice in the group stage in this competition before Christmas and runs the risk of being suspended for the second leg at home if he is shown yellow at the Parc des Princes.
While he will obviously be doing his best to avoid that fate, coming up against PSG’s formidable attacking line-up is likely to mean he’s in for a difficult evening.
Keeping Mbappe quiet is always tricky but the hosts also have the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Randal Kolo Muani and Bradley Barcola as other options going forward, so another booking could well be coming Zubeldia’s way.
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.