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Big-spending PSG still trailing in Real’s financial shadow

Madrid, Tuesday

Paris Saint-Germain smashed the world-record transfer fee last year to sign Neymar from Barcelona, but despite the big spending driven by their Qatari owners, the French club still lag behind Real Madrid in terms of financial muscle.

Reigning European champions Real (647.6 million euros) made almost 200 million euros more in turnover than PSG (486.2 million) last year, according to Deloitte. The Spanish giants host Unai Emery’s side in the Champions League last 16, first leg on Wednesday, but can the Ligue 1 leaders ever expect to match their illustrious opponents off the pitch, never mind on it?

Real Madrid vs PSG The most eye-catching of the eight ties sees Europe’s most successful team against another looking to create a legacy of their own. PSG, who threw away a 4-0 first-leg lead against Barcelona at this stage last year, are once again running away with the top flight in France. They are 12 points clear in Ligue 1 and have added both Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to their attacking ranks since that Nou Camp humiliation.

They possess few weaknesses on paper. But in the seven years since their money-spinning Qatari takeover, the French giants are still yet to go beyond the quarter-finals. Madrid, meanwhile, are seeking a third successive European triumph under Zinedine Zidane.

Their European pedigree is unrivalled but the wheels have rather come off at the Bernabeu this season. The Spanish giants sit fourth in La Liga, 17 point off leaders Barcelona. In Europe, too, they have stumbled. The 11-time Champions were forced to settle for second in Group H after defeat by Tottenham.

But with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Co in their ranks, they still have more than enough power in their arsenal to beat any team. Porto vs Liverpool Given some of the teams their side could have faced, Liverpool fans were right to be relieved when Porto were drawn from the proverbial hat.

Jurgen Klopp’s side head into the tie as heavy favourites, having finished top of Group E with an incredible 23 goals to their name. In Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, they also have one of the most potent front lines in European football.

Despite finishing top of the pile in the group stages, however, Klopp’s side demonstrated enough inconsistency and defensive fragility to suggest their optimism must be tempered. -AGENCIES

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