By Tim Stannard
1) Real Madrid’s reminder of who wears Champions League pants
Well, that’s Thursday all sorted then in terms of how to pass the time.
A peculiar day in the calendar in that it gives people a false sense of happiness that the weekend is around the corner is going to be spent unpicking the Real Madrid v PSG clash at the Bernabeu, an encounter that saw the Spaniards taking a hefty 3-1 advantage into the second-leg.
The vibe from the Spanish corner says that while form is temporary for Real Madrid, class is permanent. There’s a reason why the club is going for a treble of Champions League victories and why Cristiano Ronaldo has scored over a hundred for Madrid in the competition.
Thursday’s front cover of Marca was a simple one – “Siuuuuuuu!” with reference to Ronaldo’s peculiar goal celebration while AS sighed “how could I not love you?” to the team. “You can never take Madrid for dead,” was the handy summing up from Sergio Ramos.
Vamos equipo!👍🏽💪🏽 pic.twitter.com/Z1Hon6cihl— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) February 14, 2018
2) Cutting the mustard against Dijon is not enough for PSG
PSG? Oh dear. Where to start? Bad tactical decisions, and a $250 million man discovering that fancy spins, tricks and flashy goal celebrations may work in Ligue Un but not against Real Madrid. "It's great to put eight goals past Dijon, but it is in these matches that you have to make it count," yelled Adrien Rabiot.
L’Equipe tried rallying the troops on Thursday by declaring that “it’s not over” but admitted that PSG will need to have “a perfect game” in three weeks’ time.
«CE N'EST PAS FINI» pour le Paris-SG, qui conserve des chances de qualification malgré sa défaite 3-1 face au Real Madrid en 8e de finale aller de la Ligue des champions.— L'ÉQUIPE (@lequipe) February 14, 2018
Télécharger l'édition 👉 https://t.co/uSbxcU4uvd pic.twitter.com/kooiogiUbq
The doubts over the performance were numerous – the disappearance of Edinson Cavani…Kylian Mbappe and Neymar doing their own thing during the game and the complete non-appearance of Angel di Maria on the pitch (his partner was not happy about that on social media) all see the PSG players taking a long, hard look at themselves.
Tune into the XTRA at 7PM ET / 4PM PT for the fallout from the night before as we ask Ray Hudson where it all went wrong for PSG…and right for Madrid.
3) 32-teams battle for the Katy Perry Cup
It’s Europa League day! Get jiggy and be happy. That’s an order.
In previous version of events the participants may have felt that it was like losing tickets to a Beyonce concert but going to a gig from the fourth-placed contestant in X-Factor 2006. Now, with the prize for the winners being a place in the Champions League for next season, the vibe is more like missing Beyonce but getting Katy Perry instead.
Today sees the first leg matches of the Last 32 stages and some hefty teams are looking at the trophy as a chance to save a season – looking at you Arsenal, Milan and Borussia Dortmund, whilst others have high hopes of some European silverware despite being involved in league title battles – Atletico Madrid and Napoli.
Viewers in Canada can enjoy a triple bill of back-to-back games starting at 11AM ET / 8AM PT with Astana against Sporting CP. That’s followed by the Christian Pulisic-inspired Borussia Dortmund facing hipsters’ favorite Atalanta. Wrapping up the afternoon, Lyon host Villarreal in a Ligue Un v La Liga battle.
Tune into the XTRA from 7PM ET / 4PM PT for the best of the day’s action.