The Sun (Malaysia)

Real heavyweigh­ts returning for PSG clash


REAL MADRID coach Rafa Benitez has been relying on second-string players to get the club through a mini injury crisis but should have several of his heavyweigh­ts back when Paris St Germain visit in the Champions League today.

Playmaker James Rodriguez, striker Karim Benzema and captain and centre back Sergio Ramos all look likely to be fit for the clash at the Bernabeu as the record 10-times winners look to pull clear of PSG at the top of Group A.

Midfielder Luka Modric may not be available after he was taken off at halftime in Saturday’s 3-1 La Liga win at home to Las Palmas with a sore hip, while it is unclear when forward Gareth Bale might return from a calf injury.

With a string of regulars missing in recent weeks, Benitez has deployed youngsters like Casemiro, Jese, Lucas Vazquez and Nacho to keep their season ticking over.

Real remain unbeaten in La Liga and are joint top with champions Barcelona on 24 points after 10 matches. The goal they conceded to Las Palmas on Saturday was the first they conceded at home this season.

“I told the players that these are the games they have to make the most of,” Benitez said.

“They are collecting points for us and they are helping us maintain our competitiv­eness so the team can keep growing.

“When the other players return it will be harder but the important thing is that they are available and they contribute to keeping the team winning.”

PSG coach Laurent Blanc was pleased to come through Friday’s Ligue 1 match at Rennes with a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from former Real midfielder Angel Di Maria and without sustaining any injuries to key players.

Blanc has been without centre back David Luiz after he sustained a knee injury on duty with Brazil last month.

Real and PSG drew 0-0 at the Parc des Princes last month in their first competitiv­e game in more than 20 years and are tied on seven points from three of six matches.

A win for either side would earn a place in the last 16 should Malmo lose at Shakhtar Donetsk today. – Reuters

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