Bayern Munich 2–3 Paris Saint-Germain, Allianz Arena
(Choupo-Moting 37 ‘, Müller 60’ – Mbappe 3 ‘, 68’ Marquinhos 28 ‘)
Revenge is a dish best served cold and for PSG there was a sweetness in this extraordinary first-leg victory for Bayern Munich, the team that turned down the French champions last season in the warmer climates of Lisbon.
The first half was a wonderful football spectacle. Free, open and everything that August’s Champions League final wasn’t. But PSG are under new management and Mauricio Pochettino’s side have ditched pragmatism for a brand of high-octane football that Bayern simply couldn’t live with in the first half.
Kylian Mbappe was once again the featured artist upon his return to Germany. The Frenchman put PSG on their way to victory in the third minute, forcing the ball to come in from close range after Manuel Neuer let a well-greased ball squirm under his body – and it’s that ruthlessness in front of goal that France World Cup winner considered the deciding factor.
“It was the efficiency in front of goal that tipped the scales,” said Mbappe. Likewise, Bayern’s Thomas Müller looked back with regret given the number of chances Bayern missed, especially in the second half.
“We have to score more goals,” he said in a candid post-match assessment. “We can talk about goals conceded, but if it ends 5-3, 6-3 then nobody could complain. If we had had the killer instinct today, which we have often shown, then you would have seen another match. “
By the time PSG captain Marquinhos had beaten Bayern’s high line and entered another, Bayern were on the ropes.
Neymar and Mbappe were in song for PSG, who hold the advantage over Bayern.
Bayern stadium fight
With Robert Lewandowski out of both legs due to injury and Serge Gnabry withdrawn from the squad on Tuesday after a positive COVID-19 test, much of the pre-match talk was about how Bayern’s attack would be blunt. The first signs were not good. Bayern had shown flashes of their quality, but struggled to meet the challenge without their two key goal threats.
But Bayern’s weakness became less of a factor when PSG captain and chief full-back organizer Marquinhos limped after injuring himself scoring PSG’s second. This opened the door for Bayern to exploit PSG’s new weakness, and that’s exactly what Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting did, taking a leading glance at Benjamin Pavard’s cross.
Hanso Flick had already lost Leon Goretzka and Niklas Süle to injury as conditions ravaged everyone, but Bayern found a balance after the reshuffle. PSG returned to a counter-attacking strategy and invited Bayern to join them, and eventually Bayern made their way, with Thomas Müller rising high to meet Joshua Kimmich’s free-kick and guide him in. the equalizer in front of him Joachim Löw.
Thomas Müller helped bring Bayern back into the game with Bayern’s second.
As this helter-skelter contest ebbed back and forth, Neuer kept Bayern with a few key saves, just like Keylor Navas did on the other end. But during an evening of Champions League football at its best, PSG and Mbappe had the final say. With Bayern slightly over-engaged, the French champions broke at high speed, Angel di Maria sliced a through ball to Mbappe, who pierced the ball through Boateng’s legs and passed Neuer.
Bayern will have to score twice without a response in Paris next week to pass and the German series winners have proven they can score without Lewandowski. The question is: can they do it and keep PSG at bay? The jury is out, but after this superb football spectacle, anything is possible.