Jersey Swap: Kylian Mbappe
When the front line of your team features the likes of Neymar and Edinson Cavani, you are expected to score goals. Add Kylian Mbappe to that line and you’re expected to score lots of goals. Which Paris Saint-Germain usually does. But not tonight. Mbappe was a threat on goal all night, much like Neymar. The difference is that Mbappe actually found the back of the net. When you are on a team that scores as prolifically as PSG and you are the lone goal scorer, you get the Jersey Swap. Robert Lewandowski agrees:
Tip of the Cap: Jupp Heynckes
There were plenty of questions when Bayern Munich announced their starting lineup for the return group-stage match with PSG. (Just have a read through the replies to the lineup announcement below, or our own Gamethread.)
But look at the match from Heynckes’ point of view and the lineup doesn’t just make sense, but was the smartest way the manager could have set up his side for the match.
Yes, Bayern would win the group if they won the match by four goals. And, yes, they’ve done it before. But this margin of victory was highly unlikely, and Heynckes’ adjusted his lineup to not only reflect this reality but the reality of the club’s upcoming schedule. The clash with PSG came a mere three days after a Bundesliga match with Hannover and a short four days before a match with Frankfurt. In fact, Bayern have four more matches over the next 15 days. Because of this onslaught of fixtures Heynckes chose not to start the recently fit Thomas Muller (who played 80 minutes versus Hannover), the 30-year-old Arturo Vidal (90 minutes against Hannover), or the recently-fit Jerome Boateng.
Heynckes instead started three players who played a combined 51 minutes versus Hannover and two who didn’t see any time on the pitch. Heynckes deployed a squad with fresh legs while preserving proven veterans for a crowded schedule. It might not have been the popular thing to do, but with the long term in mind, it was definitely the right thing to do.
Golf Clap: Franck Ribery
Making his first start since October 1 and wearing the captain’s armband for the first time since April 2013, Ribery did not take long to justify his inclusion in the starting lineup. For the first goal of the match, James Rodriguez made the cross, Kingsley Coman made the headed pass and Robert Lewandowski scored the goal, but it was Ribery’s run that made it all possible. Taking the ball in space, Ribery did not hesitate to run full speed at the suspect PSG defense, sprinting from 30 yards out to just outside the six-yard box in a matter of seconds. Instead of forcing a shot, Ribery managed to get Dani Alves, Adrien Rabiot, and Marquinhos to collapse on him before passing to James to start the sequence that led to Lewandowski’s goal. That burst toward goal was not Ribery’s only sprint during the half, as the 34-year-old covered the seventh most distance of any player on the pitch in the first half, 4.92 kilometers.
Overall Ribery took full advantage, being a pest to Alves, sprinting to any ball he had a chance of winning, and setting what would be a torrid pace for Bayern the entire 65 minutes he was on the pitch.
Standing Ovation: Sven Ulreich
Two. That is the number of teams that managed to hold PSG to one goal or fewer in all competitions this season. At least it was until Bayern held PSG to a single goal in today’s match. Some credit must go to Bayern’s back line, and center backs Mats Hummels and Niklas Sule in particular for keeping PSG’s attack at bay while linemates David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich frequently played far forward. But it was Ulreich who did the majority of the work to keep PSG two goals below their per-game average. The keeper definitely deserves credit for his saves, seven on the night, but he deserves heaping praise for his angles. Twice in the first half he was dead to rights, once by Mbappe, once by Neymar. But Ulreich positioned himself perfectly on each attempt, forcing two thirds of PSG’s relentless attack to make world-class shots if they wanted to score. Each shot went wide, and it wasn’t because of a defender’s challenge. It was because Ulreich didn’t give PSG’s superstars anywhere else to shoot. He played sweeper keeper when he needed to and he stoned Neymar in stoppage time to keep PSG’s total to one goal.
Overall a great match in goal for Ulreich against a team that averages over three goals per match.
Meister of the Match: Corentin Tolisso
It’s not just the brace. It’s the runs that led to the brace. On his first goal, Tolisso was cognizant of Lewandowski’s run to the center of the penalty area, so Tolisso adjusted his run to the right. But his patience in this adjustment was what led him to be so wide open. Tolisso waited for Thiago Silva to commit to double teaming Lewandowski before making the shift that left him in open space. The end result was his first goal of the night.
Moments before his second goal, while Coman was making a deep run to the PSG touchline, Tolisso was nowhere to be seen. If Coman was going to pass to anyone, it appeared it would be Thomas Mueller, who managed to get into an open area but at quite a distance from goal. Then a red streak appeared on the screen. As the defense again focused on Lewandowski, Tolisso waited for just the right time to take advantage of the lack of attention paid to him. Sprinting into the open area, slowing down enough to give Coman a huge target, then slamming home the opportunity, Tolisso got his brace.
On the night Tolisso also covered the most distance of anyone on the pitch (11.97 km), and completed the third most passes (63) by any player on either team. His pace, his work rate, his intelligent runs, the awareness of his surroundings, and the two goals are what earned Corentin Tolisso the Meister of the Match.