The 65th installment of the Champions League is finally upon us, and what a duel is in store for European football fans around the world. The clash between German powerhouse Bayern Munich (11th clinched Final with 4 wins) and French super team PSG (first ever Final) is going to be one full of explosive offense and big plays. Robert Lewandowski has 15 goals for Munich in this year’s cup and is looking to tie Cristano Ronaldo for second (16) or for first (17). PSG is hungry to be seen as Europe’s elite and is looking to ride Mbappe’s 5 goals in the competition to a win. Both sides have great international talent and this game is going to be a nail biter.
HOW THEY GOT HERE:
Bayern clinched the spot with a dominant performance against the French side Lyon in the semifinals. They scored 3 goals while enjoying 66% possession and 87% pass accuracy and never seemed to be in any danger
PSG earned their spot by knocking out the German squad RB Leipzig by three goals. A solid 58% possession and 90% pass accuracy propelled the Paris squad into their first ever final in history.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Each Teams 3 Game Changers
BAYERN: Serge Gnabry, Alphonso Davies, Robert Lewandowski
The German talent Serge Gnabry is coming off a two goal semifinal and is going to look for another dominant display on the biggest stage. The 25 year old has 9 goals and is 3rd in scoring in the Champions League. Expect Gnabry to explode off the wing and create havoc if given daylight to.
Alphonso Davies is by far one of the most versatile wonder kids in all of football. The 19 year old Canadian will be looking to display his defensive prowess along with his offensive talent for a team who has had their way all season with teams. He has 88% pass completion on all his passes to go with 4 assists. The youngster can definitely be a spark if the game goes stale at any moment with his incredible work rate.
Robert Lewandowski has aged like fine wine and continues to be one of the best strikers in the world. He leads the entire tournament in goals scored and also notched himself 6 assists thus far. He is a daring striker who has a knack to put himself in position to score and is expected to be adding to his golden boot resume.
PSG: Angel Di Maria, Presnel Kimpkembe, Kylian Mbappe
Angel Di Maria has had an excellent tournament this season. The 32 year old Argentine national was a pest against Leipzig being part of all goals, scoring 1 and assisting 2 more. The constant defensive traps set against Neymar and Mbappe allow Di Maria to play more freely and either create plays or finish them. He has 3 goals and 6 assists and can create many plays in the final thanks to his tremendous IQ and vision.
Presnel Kimkembe completely shut down his side of the defense against Leipzig and gave PSG a sturdy backbone throughout the match. He was listed as a center-back but played left back the whole time as Juan Bernat pushed up with the midfielders to attack. If the 25 year old wants to prove himself, he can do so by stopping Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry and can cement himself as a top defender for PSG.
The reason Neymar was not listed as a top 3 option is simply because Kylian Mbappe is the more dangerous player coming in. There is no denying Neymar’s ball touch and deadly speed, but Mbappe has 5 and 5 assists for Paris and has clocked in at a top speed of 32 km/h (19 mph). The 21 year old superstar has an ability to split defenders with his raw speed and dribbling to score at will or unselfishly create and give the ball off for an assist. PSG can exploit Bayern’s defense with Mbappe and that can give them the edge here.
MY PICK: BAYERN 3-2 PSG with the finishing goal in extra time.
MVP: ALPHONSO DAVIES
I believe this game is going to be a tough battle for both teams and can see it going into overtime. The main battle to keep an eye on here is how Alphonso Davies defensively takes on Kylian Mbappe and what midfield imposes their will and controls the ball. If Davies can keep a cool head, which is hard when you are playing the biggest game of your life at 19, I can see him slowing down Mbappe allowing his team to set up and maybe even registering himself an assist in this game. The midfield has been a hard task for PSG to control, meanwhile Bayern’s has been solid all season and given them their possession. PSG also has had issues against counters since they send up their defense and midfield into attacking, leaving holes when they run back to play defense. This will open up the game for Bayern and allow them to exploit the lack of awareness with their offense. Expect big time plays by Thiago and Leon Goretzka in the midfield to open up the game and leave balls to be finished by Lewandowski and Gnabry. PSG will throw everything they have left, but Bayern’s composure and their red hot offense should grant them their 5th title.
ARMAAN SODHI’S PICK
Score Prediction: BAYERN 3 – 2 PSG, MVP: ALPHONSO DAVIES
Bayern had a scare against Lyon and could’ve arguably been down 2-0 before a quick Gnabry double ended Lyon’s hope. It seemed as if Lyon got the better of them on the counter attack. However, Bayern is clinical in front of goal and once they got their first goal, they dominated the rest of the game. If PSG’s finishing is what it’s been in the last couple of games, Bayern will make them pay. Bayern plays a fairly high line so PSG will have countless opportunities to find Neymar and Mbappe behind the defense and give them space to work with. In the end, Bayern overall is a much more complete team and an overall better team and I have them winning the UCL final for the first time since 2013 while PSG’s Champions League drought continues.