The UEFA Champions League is back with some absolutely mouth watering ties as we enter the quarter-final stage of the competition.
In a rematch of last seasons final, Bundesliga champions and current holders Bayern Munich will take on Ligue 1’s Paris Saint-Germain in arguably the most star-studded clash of the round.
Hansi Flick’s men cruised the the most comfortable last 16 tie there was, with wins both home and away against Serie A side Lazio to waltz to a 6-2 aggregate win, while Paris Saint-Germain were able to smash through Barcelona at the Camp Nou meaning the draw at the Parc des Princes wasn’t a downer with a 5-2 progression on aggregate.
In the Bundesliga, Bayern are on the verge of securing a ninth successive league title as they currently sit seven points clear at the top with just seven games to play. Paris Saint-Germain on the other hand look like they could miss out on a fourth successive title and an eighth in nine years after flailing under both Thomas Tuchel and Mauricio Pochettino this season.
With seven games to go, PSG currently sit three points behind Lille having been defeated by their rivals in the most recent game at the weekend. They have lost eight league games so far this season, the most since the 2010/11 season and as many as each of the last two seasons combined.
One positive for Pochettino’s side is that even despite their poor league form, they have looked fantastic in Europe. After a shaky start in the group stages they were able to come through as the winners of the group of death ahead of RB Leipzig and Manchester United.
Under Pochettino they have attempted to play a possession based game, with good pressing and incisive attacking patterns to help Kylian Mbappe and Neymar thrive. The Brazilian missed both games against Barcelona but is fit once again, although he was sent off at the weekend.
Bayern have maintained their excellent form from last season and overcame their first blip under Flick earlier in the season to get back on track. Their high press, high line in defence and dominance in midfield allows them to control every game they’re in and their lethal attack led by Robert Lewandowski means they punish any mistakes.
The issue for them in this tie comes from the fact that they will be without the legendary Polish striker after he picked up a knee injury on international duty. That means the likelihood is that Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will lead the line up front as he did this past weekend, although Thomas Muller could also start as the furthest man forward.
Serge Gnabry is a doubt for the first leg after missing training but PSG are also struggling with injuries. Marco Verratti and Alessandro Florenzi have both tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the games, while Leandro Paredes is suspended for the first leg.
Both teams are weakened but PSG will feel as though they have a great chance of exacting their revenge with their first choice attack on the pitch. The one-legged final last year was a very close game in which PSG missed a host of chances before former academy star Kingsley Coman was able to head in the winner in the second half.
With Bayern not look as solid defensively this season and the game being played over two legs rather than one, it seems unlikely Flick’s team will be able to stop PSG from scoring yet again. Without Lewandowski in the team, the German side’s chances of scoring goals diminish hugely despite the quality they possess and if Mbappe and Neymar are fit and raring to go then this could be enough to see the Parisians come through with a win.
It’s quite easily the most closely contested tie of the round and I think PSG will be able to earn some revenge this year.
Bayern Munich 1-1 Paris Saint-Germain
Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 Bayern Munich
(Paris Saint-Germain to progress 3-1 on aggregate)