The longest season in recent memory finally comes to an end on Saturday night as Paris Saint-Germain take on Bayern Munich in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League final in Lisbon.
The two sides have progressed through to the final following big wins in the semi-final against nations from the opposition countries. PSG outclassed RB Leipzig thanks to goals from Marquinhos, Angel Di Maria and Juan Bernat while Bayern overcame a rough start against Lyon to also win 3-0, thanks to a Serge Gnabry brace and Robert Lewandowski’s 54th goal of the campaign.
While PSG were quite comfortable in their progression, Bayern had a few question marks early on in the game as Lyon could have quite conceivably been 2-0 up before Gnabry’s wondergoal in the 18th minute. The aggressive high-line that the German champions play was caught out by Memphis Depay and Karl Toko Ekambi, but both players missed golden opportunities to put Lyon ahead.
Once Gnabry found the back of the net, Bayern entered cruise control and saw the game out comfortably but the questions were immediate and loud. If Bayern allow that kind of chance against the quality of Neymar and Mbappe, would they still be able to get themselves back into the game?
In reality, the answer is probably no. PSG have conceded just 4 goals in the competition this season and while they’re much more renowned for their attacking abilities, defensively they have been solid throughout the competition.
Bayern have of course been free-scoring, hitting 7 past Tottenham in the group stages, 7 past Chelsea over their two-legged last 16 tie and 8 past Barcelona in their one-legged quarter-final game. If anyone is going to be able to open up the Parisian defence, it’s Flick’s side who seem to be able to play any style of football necessary.
They control possession in the majority of their games and can unlock low blocks, however we’ve seen them use Lewandowski as a traditional target man to bypass the opposition press and even sit in a bit deeper than usual to be able to launch counter-attacks. With the depth they have on the bench too, they’re always capable of switching the plan mid-game to adjust to their opposition.
PSG are likely to line-up with Marco Verratti and Keylor Navas back in the starting line-up, meaning they will be at full strength. Reports suggest that Kylian Mbappe will start as the centre-forward with Neymar and Di Maria on the wings, meaning Mauro Icardi will start on the bench. For Bayern Munich, they are expected to be unchanged once again. Jerome Boateng is a doubt after coming off against Lyon at half-time, but it’s expected he should be able to overcome his issue to start ahead of Nicklas Süle.
Looking at the performances of both sides, it’s hard to pick against Bayern Munich in this game. They’ve battered everyone and they seem to always have an extra gear to go up if they need it. Hansi Flick’s side are dominant on the ball and while they have had a few issues defensively, they are averaging four goals a game. But something tells me it’s PSG’s time.
With Neymar in sensational form and just missing a goal from his knockout stage performances, he’ll be fired up to take the crown as the world’s best player by delivering the trophy that PSG paid €222million for him to bring to Paris. Kylian Mbappe is already a World Cup final goalscorer and will want to add to that too, while Angel Di Maria and Keylor Navas have won the tournament before. Thiago Silva will be playing his final game for the club and will want to cap off his time as captain with the biggest trophy there is.
There is plenty of motivation for both sides but it just seems like it may be PSG’s time. Bayern have possibly peaked a little bit too early and if they adopt the aggressive high-line that they did against Chelsea, Barcelona and Lyon then they will be punished.
Neymar to score anytime (90 mins only) – 31/20 (888Bet)
PSG to win & both teams to score (90 mins only) – 7/2 (Bet365)
Leon Goretzka to be booked (90 mins only) – 9/2 (Bet365)