How Bayern Munich will adjust their attack to prevent PSG from taking revenge for the Champions League
In the ever-rolling, ever-compelling drama that is the Champions League, a storyline with revenge is never far away.
The fact that in modern times the same elite cluster of clubs almost always reaches the final stage makes repeated encounters almost inevitable.
So it turns out that Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain will go to war again, less than eight months after they met in the final of Europe’s best competition.
Bayern Munich will be without two of their main forwards Robert Lewandowski (left) and Serge Gnabry (right) when they host Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
Coach Hansi Flick (left) will likely call on striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to lead the line
Thomas Muller will play an important second striker role in Wednesday’s first leg in Munich
On that night in Lisbon, the German club wrote another chapter in history when they completed the Treble thanks to second-half winner Kingsley Coman.
While Bayern reaffirmed their status as Europe’s premier team, the glass ceiling of Champions League glory remains unmatched for the Parisians.
But as they prepare to meet again, this time over two legs in the quarter-finals, PSG can soak up Bayern’s weakness and will be motivated to exploit it.
This time, the Bundesliga leaders will face PSG without their lead sniper Robert Lewandowski, who is sidelined with a knee ligament injury, and also a major creative force in Serge Gnabry, who has tested positive for Covid-19.
If he were fit, Lewandowski, who has scored a whopping 42 goals in six different competitions this season, would have clearly taken the lead for Bayern.
Kingsley Coman, who scored the winner against PSG in the Champions League final last season, is also likely to start as one of Bayern’s wide forwards.
Leroy Sane provides the threat from the opposite flank to ensure Bayern’s attack is strong
Take a quick look
BAYERN MUNICH vs. PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
Quarter Final UEFA Champions League 1st leg
Wednesday 8pm UK time
Live on BT Sport 3
Likely team lineups
Bayern Munich: New; Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Sane, Muller, Coman; Choupo moting
Paris Saint Germain: Navas; Dagba, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Diallo; Gueye, Herrera; Di Maria, Neymar, Mbappe; Kean
It is less certain that Gnabry would have started in the Allianz Arena. Bayern is blessed with many broad forwards with similar skills, but the fact that coach Hansi Flick let him sit on the bench for Saturday’s 1-0 win over RB Leipzig might suggest that Gnabry might have been turned to take on PSG .
After all, he was excellent at those one-legged Champions League knockout matches last season. The former Arsenal man scored and created another in the 8-2 demolition of Barcelona, then scored twice in the 3-0 win over Lyon.
Gnabry certainly took up the challenge in the biggest games of Bayern’s Treble season as part of an outstanding campaign with some 23 goals and 14 assists.
His results have been more modest this season, although Gnabry does get the starting spot in most Bundesliga games.
So Bayern are two main offensive players, while PSG will be able to align all of their stars – Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Angel Di Maria, Moise Kean – in an intimidating forward.
Still, of course, it would be very foolish to assume that PSG will take revenge on Bayern.
The most likely solution for Flick is to imitate the line-up that worked very successfully in Saturday’s away win at Leipzig, which more or less secured their ninth Bundesliga title in a row.
PSG can call on their formidable forward, including Neymar (left) and Kylian Mbappé (right) for the first leg against Bayern in Munich.
Mauricio Pochettino has made it clear that Bayern is more than the sum of its parts
That saw former PSG striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting progressed furthest with a trio of Coman, Thomas Muller and Leroy Sane supporting left to right. Not too shabby it’s fair to say.
Choupo-Moting came off the bench in the closing minutes of last season’s final as PSG chased the equalizer with growing desperation.
The former Stoke City man always knew he would play second fiddle to Lewandowski, but he has still scored five times this season, including against Lazio in the last 16, and has been involved in a goal every 140 minutes on average.
Muller will meanwhile be deployed in his trusted second striker role, looking for those places to make a difference.
His contributions are often overshadowed by Lewandowski, but the 31-year-old has scored 13 goals and scored another 18 in an incredibly productive season. His last assist was for Leon Goretzka to handle Saturday’s game in the Red Bull Arena.
Choupo-Moting was part of the PSG squad that reached the Champions League final last year
The Cameroonian forward spent the 2017-18 season at Stoke City, scoring just five goals
Bayern will also threaten from wide positions, hoping PSG will come to them to try and get a lead in the first leg and leave gaps for Sane and Coman to exploit at their pace.
Both Sane and Coman have scored nine goals in the Bundesliga this season, while the former Man City winger has scored three in the Champions League.
Sane was especially effective in the 4-1 win over Lazio in the first leg of the final round, with Italian club Bayern playing into the cards by leaving huge gaps.
So, Bayern’s attack may be short of two regulars, but can hardly be described as worn out when they come in in what should be an engaging draw.
Bayern tied the score, backed by their important Bundesliga victory over Leipzig on Saturday
PSG are eager to retaliate for last season’s loss in the final as the teams meet again
PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino summarized it best on Tuesday when asked about Lewandowski’s absence. ‘Bayern’s strength lies in the collective. If you win the Champions League and the World Cup for clubs, it is because you have a really good group, not just 11 performing players. ‘
And that’s exactly it. Bayern are so used to winning both domestically and in the Champions League that they look like a well-oiled machine that makes endless blows.
Replace a few parts and it just keeps messing around.