The 2019/20 season finally comes to a close on Sunday night, as Paris Saint-Germain takes on Bayern Munich in the Champions League final at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal.
PSG ran riot against RB Leipzig in the semifinals, as their overpowered frontline were just too much for the youthful side to handle.
Marquinhos headed home from a free kick to give them the lead, and Angel Di Maria made it two before the half after a brilliant backheel pass from Neymar put him through on goal. Juan Bernat put the tie to bed at the hour mark, sealing PSG’s spot in the final.
Munich had a tougher time in their matchup, and could’ve gone down early against Lyon. The Bundesliga side held firm, though, and a Serge Gnabry brace gave them a crucial advantage going into the second half. A Robert Lewandowski header finished things off late on, bringing Munich to this stage in style.
Both teams will have almost all of their players available for selection, but there could be some crucial absences on the night.
Paris, for example, might be without starting goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who was forced off in the quarterfinals against Atalanta. Backup Sergio Rico came in for the semi, and there’s a decent chance he’ll be turned to once again for the final.
Layvin Kurzawa and Idrissa Gana Gueye will also likely miss out due to fitness issues, although midfielder Marco Verratti could feature from the start after coming off the bench against Leipzig.
Meanwhile, Bayern only have to worry about Jerome Boateng, who has been dealing with a nagging muscular problem. He was taken off at halftime against Lyon, but the German defender should still start on Sunday.
Paris Saint-Germain: Rico, Kehrer, Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat, Herrera, Marquinhos, Verratti, Di Maria, Neymar, Mbappe
Bayern Munich: Neuer, Kimmich, Boateng, Alaba, Davies, Thiago, Goretzka, Gnabry, Muller, Perisic, Lewandowski
Ones to watch
When PSG triggered Neymar’s release clause of 222 million euros to sign the player back in 2017, it was for games like this.
Breaking the transfer fee record to get the deal done, the Ligue 1 side showed just how much they cared about winning their first Champions League trophy. They had picked out countless domestic titles before that, but when it came to European competition, they always came up short.
That was also the case during Neymar’s first few seasons in Paris, even though he couldn’t do much about it. The Brazilian was out injured for the 2nd leg against both Real Madrid and Manchester United, and had to watch his team get eliminated while on the sidelines.
This season, things have changed. He has stayed healthy, and has played a key role in PSG making the final. Neymar’s impact now goes beyond the scoresheet, as he runs the game instead of just focusing on goals and assists. He drops deep to pick up the ball, dribbling past defenders and opening space for his teammates in the process.
If PSG want any chance of winning on Sunday, they’ll need Neymar to be at his brilliant best once again. Considering how good he has been as of late, don’t be surprised if the Brazilian ends the night with the man of the match award and the UCL trophy.
Robert Lewandowski has dominated most of the headlines due to his prolific goalscoring form, but there’s reason to believe Serge Gnabry will be the one who makes the difference for Munich in the final.
His rise to the top has been truly remarkable. Flopping hard on loan at West Brom, Gnabry was eventually sold by Arsenal, who had lost hope in the player. He had to rebuild his career back home in Germany, signing for Werder Bremen. After impressing, Bayern Munich came calling, buying him before sending him on loan to Hoffenheim, where he continued to improve.
Only a few years later, Gnabry is one of the best wingers in world football. Dynamic on and off the ball, he’s got everything you could ask for in an attacker. He can use his speed to run in behind, or he can drop deep and pass the ball around in the midfield.
Gnaby really shines in the final third, able to dance past the opposition before either going for goal or picking out a teammate. He can score from any angle and distance with either foot, making him a nightmare to deal with.
Him and the aforementioned Lewandowski have become quite the partnership, scoring a combined 24 goals this Champions League campaign. There’s a good chance one of them, or both, will find the back of the net on Sunday, leading Munich to their 6th UCL title in the process.
It’s been over three and a half years since the two sides have faced off in a competitive contest, with their last matchups coming in the 2017/18 UCL group stages.
The first match was at the Parc de Princes, where PSG were comfortable winners in front of their home crowd. They took the lead after only two minutes, as Neymar picked out a streaking Dani Alves, who smashed a shot through the legs of the goalkeeper.
Paris would double their advantage at the half hour mark courtesy of Edinson Cavani. Kylian Mbappe got the ball out wide before laying it off to the edge of the area, and the Uruguayan made no mistake with the finish, picking out the top right corner with his curling effort.
Neymar then put the game to bed with a third goal, poking the ball home from a few yards out after some woeful defending from Bayern.
However, Munich would get their revenge a few months later in the return match, as they won 3-1 at the Allianz Arena.
Robert Lewandowski opened the scoring early on before Corentin Tolisso made it two before halftime with a superb header.
PSG would pull one back when Mbappe headed home only a few minutes after the break, but Munich were just too much to handle. Tolisso grabbed his second and the Bavarians third in the 69th minute, hitting a first time shot into the back of the net after a quality low pass from Kingsley Coman.
That would be enough for Munich to seal all three points on the night, but PSG ended up topping the group on goal differential anyway.
Where to watch
Those in the UK can watch the contest on BT Sport 1, while fans in the United States can see the game on CBS Sports Network.