UCL Season Final, 2020.
At Estadio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal.
Score Prediction: 3-2 to Bayern Munich.
The moment every football fan has been waiting for, is finally upon us, in just about a few hours we’ll have a new Champion of Europe. Of course, this has been one strange season, sans fans and marked with confusion. The fact that we have had a championship is remarkable in itself! I mean, 4 months back, no one would have even deemed it possible, but due to the seamless dedication of the players, the coaching stuff, the medical personal and the officials it has been made possible. And the tournament has lived up to it’s reputation, the stands might have been empty but they was no lack of intensity from any of the participating teams; the smaller teams gave it all they had over the course of the one-legged ties, while the bigger teams put in the hard yards to hold on to their laurels. Not all succeeded, as is only natural, there were a few upsets and the occasional scare, like Atleti returning two Corona positives before flying out to Lisbon; but it all worked out and now the two best teams of the tournament find themselves in the final. Contesting for the coveted trophy and the title are the German Giants, Bayern Munich and the team ruling the Parisian hearts PSG.
Can Bayern make history by winning all their matches in the tournament and lift the trophy after 7 long years?
I am a Bayern fan and last year I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams that Bayern would make it to the final of the Champion’s League. No, the memories of that dismal performance against Liverpool was just too raw in my memory; but then Flick came over and everything changed. The manager who had never before held the post of head-coach/manager, the retired mid-fielder of Bayern Munich gave the team back it’s identity.
The pacy, high pressing Bayern was what the fans…I had been waiting for. There were times back in the 2018-2019 campaign under Kovach when the team would win but I’d be disappointed, because I was unable to recognize the team that was playing in Bayern’s jersey. They weren’t playing the kind of football that Bayern was associated with, the team would sit back and defend with their lines all wrong. Poor Lewy loitered at the top of the pitch waiting for crosses and he did find the net regularly but only to have the defenders concede twice as many goals and Lewy would be under pressure to score more.
But the team that’ll take field tomorrow won’t be doing anything like that. Though the dangers of the Bayern high line have been discussed plenty of times in the media in the last few days, Hansi Flick has vowed to keep it in place because that is the kind of ball that Bayern plays. Nauer will play the ball from the back, the full backs will try and move the ball up the flanks, in the middle Thiago will drop back to strengthen the defense at times, while Goretzka will try and be physical and move the ball up the pitch, running through the gaps and popping up the box every now and then. Muller will find passing lanes through the lines, the wingers can cut in and aid him and add to the scoring options in the box. Lewy will be pressing the opposition CB and put pressure on the opposition goal keeper and he has been exceptional this season and his desire of having the trophy in his hands will propel him faster.
This sort of play obviously comes with problems with its own. Bayern defense will be stretched out at the back as Davis and Kimmich foray forward and this chink in the armour has been exposed before and PSG are probably best suited to exploit it. Boateng and Alaba will have to be at their best putting in tackles to stop those classy PSG forwards. The mid-field will be crucial in the final, and Thiago will have to put in a better performance in his last match for his club than the one he put in against Lyon. If he makes the same mistakes, Bayern will find themselves on the back foot very soon. Goretzka needs to continue his good work. He has been putting in the work for the team, running all over the pitch, covering for Kimmich and at other times for Davis in the back line and then making those superb runs through the middle to get into the box, at times undetected. However, he has lacked the finishing touch. He’s had chances to score almost every match and yet has not found the net once. Only last match he hit Lewy and Muller instead of the net. Lewy our “tur meister” too has been missing chances and in a game, which because of it’s nature, might well turn into an exhibition of which team can outscore the other, it might hurt us. Gnabry was exceptional last match, his first goal against Lyon was as good as they get and I’ll want to have the pace of Coman on the wings to accompany him although he too at times have lacked the ability to add the finishing touch.
Will PSG be able to lift the cup at first go?
The importance of this moment could be gauged from the excitement of the fans who came out in hordes in the streets of Paris to celebrate their teams first qualification to the final. And PSG has a good chance of beating the Bavarian Giants, they definitely have the arsenal to do so. PSG did have a scare in the quarter-final against Atalanta but them scoring in the closing minutes of the game must have given the team even more self-belief and that would be crucial when the take the field against Bayern.
Unlike most of the other opponents that Bayern has faced so far in the competition, PSG will not be willing to sit back and defend, they will be willing to win the ball,command possession and then pass the ball off to the deadly trio in front. And take my word for it, they will have plenty of chances to score. PSG has the pace to outpace Bayern’s back line, Davis might be able to keep up with the Mbappe, but Kimmich able as he is, will be left behind. Neymar, Di Maria and Mbappe will be able to break through the defense and then be faced in a one on one duel against Bayern’s sweeper keeper- Manual Neuer. Neuer did good against Lyon but the PSG strikers are a whole different ball game.
While defending, this team too will find it difficult to contain the opponent. The PSG defense has been doing a solid job, but they have not really faced high scoring opposition thus far in the tournament and even though the veteran Thiago Silva will be at the helm and oozing calm he will have a lot to contend with. Tuchel will obviously have to solve the dilemma of the mid-field first. Verratti is their best option in the mid-field but having just returned from an injury, he will probably not make it to the starting XI. It will be the trident of Herrera, Marquinhos and Paredes who will be charged with trying to stop the Bayern surge. Marquinhos has been excellent this championship, not only has he been consistently winning balls in the center but also provided the team with crucial goals. Herrera too has done his job well. In fact he has been going out wide in the last few matches to contend with the opposition Full Backs, however, that might just open up a whole new can of worms for him in the final. If he tries to shadow Davis too closely, the mid field will open up for the likes of Goretzka to create passing lines and even move further up. So I expect to see Harrera commanding a more central position than he had been doing in the recent matches.
Up top will be the deadly combination of Neymar, Mbappe and Di Maria looking to thread goals in the opposition net. I do not see the possibility of either Neymar or Mbappe moving down the pitch to add to the defensive edge of the team to counter a Bayern attack, they will at all times maintain their position looking for that pass to come in. Neymar has not been in the best of form, in that he has missed quite a few opportunities to score in the last few matches, but the beauty of a player like him is that you can never discount him and he has a knack of turning things on in important matches any way. The fact that Mbappe is even on the pitch is a miracle of sorts, yes, he is a tad bit rusty but it doesn’t really matter when you have the caliber that he has, he will remain a goal threat for the opposition throughout the 90mins. And Mari’s performance in the semis spoke for for his ability and his persisting hunger.
Bayern Munich: Boateng might not be fully fit for the match, in that case Niklas Sule will be taking his place and I’d go for Coman in place of Perisic, given that he was not at his best against Lyon. Pavard is not yet fit enough to play for 90 mins and as a result, he remains on the bench and Kimmich at RB.
Kimmich Sule Alaba Davis
Coman Muller Gnabry
PSG: Regular gaolkeeper, Navas is still injured and in his absence it will be Sergio Rico manning the posts. Although Verratti seems to have returned, he might not be fit enough to play the entire match and I only see him coming off the bench after half time.
Angel Di Maria Mabappe Neymar
Herrera Marquinhos Paredes
Kehrer Silva Kimpembe Bernat
Cover the Spread Betting Trends
Bayern Munich Champions League form: WWWWWW
Bayern Munich form (all competitions): WWWWWW
Paris Saint-Germain Champions League form: DWLWWW
Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions): WWWWWW
Bayern Munich have scored in their last 6 away matches and have 15 goals in their last 3 matches.
PSG have not drawn once in their last 12 matches and neither have Bayern.
Free UCL Final Picks PSG vs Bayern Munich.
This match has the potential of turning out to be one of the most memorable finals of the UCL in recent times, given the way both these teams play. A lot is at stake for both teams and both are hungry; one to lift their first major European Title and the other to repeat their heriocs of winning the ‘Treble’. Bayern has more experience playing finals but PSG make it up with their vigour. In all, even though I am a Bayern fan, I can not say with certainty that Bayern are clear favourites. This will be a high scoring match and the team scoring first will have the advantage and given way things have played themselves out and the tons of goals that Bayern has scored and ovbiously, my bais towards Bayern will have me choose Bayern over PSG. They have quality all over the pitch, the right mentality and the “never say die” attitude and seem a well oiled machine. But PSG have just as much chance of winning the competition.