Alves confident PSG can end Real’s European reign

Paris St Germain’s Dani Alves wants to “send a message to Europe” by ending Real Madrid’s Champions League defence.

The former Barcelona full-back is used to high-profile clashes with Los Blancos and is relishing the challenge of turning around a 3-1 first-leg deficit.

Adrien Rabiot’s opener in Madrid was not enough to put PSG on top in the tie, with Cristiano Ronaldo’s double and a Marcelo strike giving Real the advantage, but the away goal gives them hope, with a 2-0 win at the Parc des Princes tonight sufficient to progress.

Alves said: “It’s a challenge for us, an opportunity to change the course of our history and eliminate the holders of the title.

“We could have had a better result in the first leg. We were superior in the game and had the better chances. It made us think we can knock them out.

“There is no greater motivation. We are going to try to knock out a strong opponent and send a message to Europe.

“We have to start the match with this mentality. We have to believe and we have to do it.”

Coach Unai Emery echoed his player’s thoughts, claiming: “I want to see the best Real, because I think we can beat them.

“It is a unique moment, a big chance to take a step forward in front of our supporters.”

Kylian Mbappe and Marquinhos returned to training on Sunday and Javier Pastore followed suit yesterday, meaning Neymar is PSG’s only absentee. Angel Di Maria will continue to deputise for the Brazilian and has the chance to add to his resurgence in form since the new year; in that time, he has 13 goals and nine assists to his name in 16 appearances for PSG.

Real have doubts over midfielders Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, as they bid to continue their remarkable run in the competition, having reached at least the semi- finals for the last eight years.

Despite an improvement in form, coach Zinedine Zidane’s future may still depend on further European success.

He said: “We are focused and ready to have a great game. The only thing we have to worry about is this match, in which we will be 11 against 11, with a referee who will do his job.

“We are going to suffer and they are going to make it difficult for us. PSG will do everything they possibly can to try and eliminate us and I hope to see a great game of football.”

On the absence of Neymar, Zidane added: “For us nothing changes, in the sense that there will just be another highly motivated player in his place.

“We will have a great team in front of us, with great players, and they are very competitive.

“We know Di Maria very well, he is a spectacular player who also caused hysteria in Madrid and he can play in any position across the middle.”


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