Champions League final: Paris St-Germain and Bayern Munich meet in Lisbon

23 August 2020 0 By Total Football News
Will Bayern Munich (left) or Neymar's PSG (right) take the glory in Lisbon?
Champions League final: Paris St-Germain v Bayern Munich
Date: Sunday 23 August Kick-off: 20:00 BST Venue: Estadio da Luz, Lisbon Coverage: Full match commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live, live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Paris St-Germain take on Bayern Munich in a mouth-watering Champions League final on Sunday - with both teams looking to create history for themselves.

A competition which started in June 2019 with the preliminary round comes to a climax between arguably the best side in world football against one of the planet's finest forward lines.

While ruthless Bayern chase only the second European domestic treble in their proud history, PSG are looking to be crowned champions of Europe for the first time.

BBC Radio 5 Live's European football experts got together to discuss the showpiece final as the powerhouses of France and Germany prepare for a showdown in Lisbon without spectators.

'The best team v the best player'

Having won both the Bundesliga, with a 13-point cushion, and the German Cup, Hansi Flick's side are on course to match the achievements of Jupp Heynckes' class of 2012-13.

"The 2013 team were in many ways perfect but then they had players that probably wouldn't get into this team," German football expert Raphael Honigstein said.

Bayern have swept all before them in this season's competition, including the 8-2 quarter-final thrashing of five-time winners Barcelona.

They have scored 42 goals in 10 games, including 10 in two group matches against Tottenham and seven over two legs against Chelsea in the last 16.

Trying to stop them from winning a sixth European cup is a PSG side whose forward line consists of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel di Maria.

In 19 Champions League appearances for PSG, Neymar has been directly involved in 23 goals, scoring 14 times and assisting nine.

Neymar scored in the 2015 final for Barcelona and could become only the third player to score in the final for two different teams, along with Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd/Real Madrid) and Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich/Juventus)

"Bayern are the best team in Europe," said Spanish football expert Guillem Balague.

"It is the best team against the team with the best player, in Neymar. You have, in him, someone who can do something out of nothing like nobody else in the world right now.

"He does nearly impossible things. He is perhaps the only player who can win a game on his own."

French football expert Matt Spiro believes a Paris St-Germain win would justify the club's decision to pay Barcelona a world record fee of 222m euros (£200m) for Neymar in August 2017.

"Outside of France I think it's hard for anyone to look at that transfer in any other way than he wanted lots and lots of money and to be a big star - but his attitude has made a big difference this season," said Spiro.

"It all changed for PSG in that [last-16] second leg against Borussia Dortmund [in March].

"Neymar epitomised this new spirit at PSG. Ever since, he has looked like a very happy and determined man."

Do Bayern need to change?

Bayern Munich have reached their 11th final in the competition, with only Real Madrid playing in more (16).

Despite winning all 10 games in this season's competition, Bayern have faced questions about their defending, with Lyon missing chances in their 3-0 semi-final defeat.

"We might just see the team dropping a little bit deeper and maybe not pushing all the time," added Honigstein about Sunday's final.

"There is a slight debate and concern inside the team that they need to adapt and adjust a little bit to be successful against Paris St-Germain."

Bayern are looking to become the first team in the history of the competition to win 11 games in a row

Balague believes there is little wrong with Bayern.

"They completely believe in what they are doing," he said.

Tuchel's created a team to make Neymar better

This is Paris St-Germain's first final in the competition, with Thomas Tuchel's men the 41st team to reach the showpiece.

They have been one of Europe's biggest spenders, but also one of the continent's most high-profile underachievers on the grandest stage.

Former Borussia Dortmund boss Tuchel has built a functional team and made a platform for Neymar, who is playing his best football in three years in Paris.

"They are a little bit predictable in the sense everything goes through Neymar or, increasingly, Angel di Maria," added Honigstein.

Paris St-Germain have won Ligue 1 twice since Thomas Tuchel was appointed in May 2018

"But there is also now this connection between the back four and Neymar with this midfield that is full of running and a good attitude.

"It just feels much more like a complete team."

Balague said Tuchel deserves praise for "making a team for Neymar".

"The most impressive stat for PSG is they kept seven clean sheets in 10 games in the Champions League," he said.

"It is not just defending quality, it's that the whole team is at it."

Bayern's crowning glory or PSG's breakthrough moment?

While this is new territory for PSG, Bayern have been here before.

European football journalist Kristof Terreur said it was "now or never" for PSG - and believes winning the Champions League could transform the French champions.

"If they win it, they might leave some teams behind," he said. "They have Mbappe, Neymar who won't leave if he wins the Champions League, and a good manager."

Honigstein said Bayern needed to win to be considered a truly exceptional European force.

"I've seen Bayern teams lose Champions League finals in pretty dramatic and traumatic circumstances in my lifetime," he added.

"Despite all the nice things we're talking about, if they lose to PSG - which is entirely possible - all of these things will be for nothing."

From West Brom to Champions League winner?

Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski has scored in nine consecutive Champions League matches, with only Cristiano Ronaldo netting in more successive games in the history of the competition.

But could Serge Gnabry, who scored two of Bayern's three goals in the semi-final against Lyon, be the key to Bayern winning the Champions League for the first time since 2013?

Serge Gnabry has scored three goals in his past two Champions League appearances

The Germany winger, 25, played three games for West Brom, including a League Cup tie against Port Vale, at the age of 20 during a loan spell from Arsenal in 2015.

"In Serge Gnabry, Bayern have a player who scores in every game," said Balague.

"Lewandowski doesn't seem as smooth in his finishing as Gnabry but he is still finishing. They have some of the best wide players in the world and some of them are on the bench."


This news item was provided by the BBC Sport - Football website - the original link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/53873870