Soccer

PSG vs. Bayern Munich tale of the tape: Who has edge in Champions League final?

The 2020 UEFA Champions League final is set: It will be Bayern Munich against PSG in Lisbon. Two of the world’s most dominant and talented teams will meet under the lights at the Estadio da Luz on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on CBS All Access. Bayern is going for their sixth UCL crown, while PSG is in the final for the first time and looking to validate the investments they have made to bring together a star-studded team led by Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. 

But how did each team get here, how do they line up, who should you keep an eye on, and who has the edge? Let’s have a look at the tale of the tape for this showdown.

How they got here

When play resumed in August, PSG were already through to the quarters thanks to beating Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16 back in March. But in this post-pandemic phase, PSG had a comeback win over Atalanta (2-1) in the quarterfinals before taking care of RB Leipzig (3-0) in the semifinals.

On the other side, Bayern had to play Chelsea in their round of 16 second leg, with the Germans winning the second leg 3-1 to advance on aggregate 7-1. Then Bayern crushed Barcelona 8-2 in the quarterfinals before taking care of Lyon 3-0 in the semifinals.

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Tactical breakdown

PSG operate in a 4-3-3 as of late, but there is some fluidity in that formation. The team is strong all over, just like Bayern, but where they really shine is in attack. Kylian Mbappe and Neymar are two of the very best in the world and can produce moments of magic. Angel Di Maria is a confident veteran in attack, and the team is boosted by the return of star midfielder Marco Verratti. The defense is so loaded at centerback that Marquinhos at times moves to the midfield. But with Verratti back, he could shift back to defense. Goalkeeper Keylor Navas missed the semifinal with a hamstring tear, but the club is hopeful he can play in the final.

Bayern typically play a 4-2-3-1 formation that allows the fullbacks to get forward with some cover in the middle defensively. Speed down the wings come from Ivan Perisic and Serge Gnabry, while 55-goal superstar Robert Lewandowski leads the front line. Bayern also have a stacked bench with attacking options like Kingsley Coman and Philippe Coutinho to count on. This team passes the ball with such pace and precision, and knows how to make opponents pay for their mistakes.

Players to watch

For PSG, it has to be Neymar. While some may point to his failure to score in the last two rounds, the truth is that he’s been fantastic. He’s getting assists, looking like a threat and winning dangerous set pieces. He’s bound to score soon, and it could be Sunday.

For Bayern, it’s Lewandowski with his unbelievable scoring record. He’s been arguably the best player in the entire world this season and seems to score even on off days (like Wednesday’s semifinal). He’s in the best form of his life and should give PSG’s defense some huge fits. 

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Who has the edge?

Goalkeeper: Manuel Neuer of Bayern and PSG’s Navas are both world-class goalkeepers. While Neuer is a bit more risky and Navas is more balanced, the edge goes to Bayern since we don’t know if Navas will play. Edge: Bayern

Defense: It’s close because these two teams are great centrally, but Bayern are superior when it comes to the fullback position with Joshua Kimmich and Alphonso Davies. That in the end gives them the big advantage in defensive stability. Edge: Bayern 

Midfield: This is a tough call. Both teams have so many quality players and so much depth. Leandro Paredes has been sensational for PSG, and with Verratti back, things are looking really good for the Parisian side. Bayern have Leon Goretzka and Thiago leading the way, and it’s too close to call. They both do so many things so well that it’s like being asked to pick between your children. Edge: Even

Forwards: Robert Lewandowski is the top attacking player in the world at the moment, but I think PSG’s attack is better across the board when you think about the players in each unit. Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi and Angel Di Maria get the edge over Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry and Ivan Perisic … but just barely. Edge: PSG

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Manager: Thomas Tuchel is the more experienced manager, but Bayern under Hansi Flick have been the better side. There is a renewed energy about this team, a fun environment that is seeing them flourish, and I think they believe that, if they are on their game, nobody can beat them. The German club has the advantage here. Edge: Bayern


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