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Leagues: UEFA Champions League

Benzema back for Real Madrid against PSG, Neymar on bench

Paris (AFP) – Karim Benzema was passed fit to return to the Real Madrid starting line-up for Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first leg against Paris Saint-Germain, for whom Neymar was named among the substitutes.

Benzema, who is Real’s top scorer this season with 24 goals in all competitions, has missed his team’s last three matches since coming off in a 2-2 draw with Elche on January 23.

In his absence, Carlo Ancelotti’s side have scored just one goal and Gareth Bale came in from the cold in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Villarreal in La Liga, making his first appearance since August.

Bale drops back to the bench here as Ancelotti made three changes to his line-up, with Ferland Mendy and Luka Modric also returning and both Marcelo and Fede Valverde making way.

Neymar has not played for PSG since the end of November due to an ankle injury and was included on the bench as PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino selected Angel Di Maria alongside Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi up front.

Mbappe, who is PSG’s top scorer this season with 21 goals in total, has been tipped to move to Madrid when his contract expires at the end of the campaign.

The second leg will be played in Spain on March 9.

Starting line-ups:

Paris Saint-Germain (4-3-3)

Gianluigi Donnarumma; Achraf Hakimi, Marquinhos (capt), Presnel Kimpembe, Nuno Mendes; Danilo Pereira, Leandro Paredes, Marco Verratti; Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria

Coach: Mauricio Pochettino (ARG)

Real Madrid (4-3-3)

Thibaut Courtois; Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao, David Alaba, Ferland Mendy; Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Luka Modric; Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema (capt), Vinicius Junior

Coach: Carlo Ancelotti (ITA)

Referee: Daniele Orsato (ITA)

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