On Sunday, August 23, we will be spectators to a carnival of attacking football as UEFA Champions League Final débutants Paris Saint-Germain clash with five-time winners Bayern Munich.
PSG has some of the world’s most notorious attacking talent, but there seems to be an air of invincibility around this Bayern team that is going to be hard to get around. No matter who you want to win, we could be set for one of the most exciting UEFA Champions League Finals in years. Here’s everything you need to know about Champions League Final odds, team form, and who's available, as we count down the pinnacle of the 2020 soccer season.
Bayern Munich vs. PSG
Date: 23 August
Time: 21:00 CET
Place: Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Lisbon
PSG has been the team to beat in Ligue 1 since 2011 when their new Qatari owner invested hundreds of millions in the club and the big-name signings soon followed. However, PSG has struggled on the bigger stage and have never progressed past the quarterfinals, despite their superstar laden team.
This year could be different though—fighting to win from behind against Atalanta and overcoming a strong RB Leipzig side suggests that their mentality may be better than ever under manager Thomas Tuchel.
They are coming up against a team that has scored 42 goals in their Champions League run-up to the finals. The reigning Bundesliga champions have been absolutely lethal in front of goal. They also have the added incentive of repeating their 2012/13 treble that will surely spur them on.
Champions League Odds
Bayern Munich: -106
Most online sports betting sites have Bayern down as firm favorites to lift the Champions League cup. This comes down to the fact that they are only the fourth team to have scored more than 40 goals in one Champions League campaign, which is mostly thanks to Robert Lewandowski. He is the second player ever to have scored 15 goals or more in a single term, with the only other player to have done this being Cristiano Ronaldo. Hans-Dieter Flick seems to have gotten the best out of a squad that cost around half of what PSG paid to bring in Neymar.
That being said, PSG has attacking talents unlike any other team in the world, and have the luxury of playing Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi, Angel Di Maria, and more. These are possibly the only forwards in the world that can find and exploit the one chink in Bayern’s armor: their high defensive line.
Barcelona failed to capitalize on the space left behind the Bayern defense and gave Thiago Alcantara too much time to pull the strings in midfield with his inch-perfect passes. However, Lyon gave the German side more trouble by pressuring Thiago into mistakes and pulling off deadly counterattacks, with Memphis Depay exploiting the space down the wing. Lyon did not capitalize on their clear cut chances and let Bayern enter the finals relatively unscathed. It’s unlikely that the PSG forwards will give them the same respite.
The attacking talents of both teams seem to be their strength, with Bayern’s forwards being particularly adept at putting their opponent to the sword. This could be a game that is won through a well organized, solid defensive display, rather than the goal-scoring glut we know both teams are capable of.
The two teams have faced each other a total of eight times, all within the UEFA Champions League. This is how those games played out.
All eight of Paris and Bayern's previous meetings in European competition have come in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
PSG: W5 D0 L3
Bayern: W3 D0 L5
12/05/17: Bayern 3-1 Paris (Lewandowski 8, Tolisso 37, 69; Mbappé 50)
09/27/17: PSG 3-0 Bayern (Dani Alves 2, Cavani 31, Neymar 63)
10/18/00: Bayern 2-0 Paris (Salihamidžić 3, Paulo Sérgio 89)
09/26/00: PSG 1-0 Bayern (Laurent Leroy 90)
11/05/97: PSG 3-1 Bayern (Gava 17, Maurice 73, Leroy 75; Babbel 28)
10/22/97: Bayern 5-1 Paris (Elber 4, 73, Jancker 21, 47, Helmer 51; Simone 48)
11/23/94: Bayern 0-1 Paris (Weah 80)
09/14/94: PSG 2-0 Bayern (Weah 39, Bravo 80)
The road to the finals
Bayern Munich is the only team to have won all 10 of the Champions League games leading up to the finals. They came out of Group B in the top spot to face a young, but confident Chelsea team, who they annihilated 7-1 on aggregate over two legs.
Barcelona was up next and many expected the well-oiled Bayern machine to seize up against the Spanish giants. However, Lionel Messi and his compatriots were unable to stop Thomas Muller, Ivan Perisic, Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich, Robert Lewandowski, and Philippe Coutinho from finding the back of the net in an 8-2 demolition.
This gave Bayern all the confidence that they needed going into the semi-final game against Lyon. However, this game proved a sterner test with Lyon’s forward players easily getting in behind their high hanging defensive line. Ultimately, Lyon did not capitalize on their chances and Bayern won 3-0.
PSG’s road to the finals wasn’t as smooth as it should have been given the hundreds of millions spent on their current squad. While they got through the group stages at the top of Group A, they only just scraped past Borussia Dortmund to win 3-2. They then needed two last-minute goals against Atalanta to secure a place in the semi-finals.
Their game against RB Leipzig was one of their better ones, with Angel Di Maria proving to be particularly lethal and playing a part in all three of their goals. PSG won that match 3-0.
PSG are known for falling short in the big competitions, but they seem to have a renewed mental strength this time around. Could 2020 be the year that they finally win the UEFA Champions League?
Jérôme Boateng suffered a knock against Lyon and this throws the back into doubt for Hans-Dieter Flick. If the center-back passes a fitness test, then it’s unlikely that the team will change from the one that dispatched Lyon in the semi-finals. If he isn’t fit, however, Flick will have to choose between Niklas Süle, who hasn’t played competitively in ten months, or another left-footed center-back in Lucas Hernández.
Benjamin Pavard could make it back into the backline, meaning Joshua Kimmich would be moved into midfield at the sacrifice of Leon Goretzka. With the team performing how it has been, it’s unlikely that this change will be necessary, however.
Likely XI: Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng (if fit), Alaba, Davies; Goretzka, Thiago; Perišić, Müller, Gnabry; Lewandowski
Thomas Tuchel has a host of injuries to manage with Gueye, Kurzawa, Veratti, and Navas all doubts for the finals. However, it’s hoped that goalkeeper Keylor Navas and Verratti (who got some minutes in the semi-finals) will be fit for the match. It’s likely that we’ll see the same starting lineup, without a traditional number 9, that performed so well against Leipzig.
Likely XI: Rico; Kehrer, Thiago Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat; Paredes, Marquinhos, Herrera; Di María, Mbappé, Neymar
If we’re going on pure result-based form for this final, then Bayern is undoubtedly the favorites, having swept aside opposition teams throughout the tournament. However, the finals offer a clean sheet for both teams and we expect PSG to do their utmost to land their first-ever Champions League trophy.
PSG, on paper, looks like an unstoppable attacking force, with the likes of soccer superstars Neymar, Mbappe, and Di Maria. If PSG can find another level and gel in their attack then they could easily penetrate Bayern’s high hanging defensive lines.
Up front, Bayern has sensational strikers in Lewandowski, Perišić, and Gnabry who always know how to find the back of the net. They are all kept together by midfield maestro Thiago Alcantara and nullifying his impact on the game is essential if PSG want to win this game. Ander Herrara has a big role to play in midfield by trying to keep Thiago in his pocket. If he fails to do this, then Bayern are going to be incredibly hard to beat.
This is going to be absolutely sensational soccer on show, with some of the world’s best attacking talent on display. It’s hard to say who is going to take home the ultimate Champions League glory, but one thing is for sure: there’s going to be goals galore on the way.
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