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Five observations from Bayern Munich’s convincing 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain

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Pride was on the line and Bayern responded

Corentin Tolisso celebrates against PSG.
Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images

#1: Jupp’s a mastermind – the lineup shake-up

With a team so deep at nearly every position, no line-up should ever really be that surprising – especially given the rampant injury bug that has infected Bayern Munich over the past three months. That said, it was a little shocking initially to see Thomas Müller, Javi Martinez, Arturo Vidal, and Jerome Boateng all on the bench for a high intensity match-up, but Jupp’s instincts and experience (and maybe some concern over his players’ health) led him to make the right personnel decision, which proved to be masterful. The biggest shock by far was the absence of Vidal and Martinez in the midfield, but Heynckes went with the younger, fresher legs of Sebastian Rudy and Corentin Tolisso. Tolisso and Rudy both struggled early before settling in. Rudy made his presence felt with his physicality and Tolisso lit up the score sheet with two goals. Tolisso’s excellent header on service from James and expert placement on his second-half goal displayed just how much potential the young Frenchman has. Needless to say Jupp has an expert feel for how and when to use his players.

#2: Robert Lewandowski made his presence felt early, and it spurred the attack’s confidence

Those chances that were just a hair off in the past few games did not miss the mark against PSG early on with Lewandowski opening the scoring for Bayern. The Polish no. 9 was a constant threat inside the box. By putting Bayern up early in the match, he empowered the offense to apply pressure to the shaky PSG defense. The entire Bayern attack just performs more cohesively when Lewandowski is involved from the outset.

#3: Niklas Süle was up to the task

It’s easy to assume that Mats Hummels is always going to put forth a superior effort, but Süle’s personal showdown with the fearsome trio of Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, and Edinson Cavani on a huge stage was a resounding success. The young defender stood tall and did not let PSG’s lightning-paced forwards outmaneuver him. Süle’s imposing stature, physical style, and calmness under pressure were all evident in his breakout Champions League performance.

Süle’s staunch effort stifled PSG.
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

#4: Neymar looked disinterested at times

Whether it was frustration in dealing with Süle and Hummels, fatigue, or some other factor, Neymar was not nearly the menace he was in the teams’ first encounter. Cavani and Mbappé each seemed to play with much more urgency than the usually-brilliant Brazilian, but without an inspired Neymar, PSG was just not the same juggernaut. Neymar's body language at times gave off a Peter Gibbons-esque vibe: “It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.” It is doubtful that last weekend’s loss to Strasbourg rattled PSG in any lasting way, but maybe – just maybe – it took a bit of the aura of invincibility away from Les Rouges-et-Bleus.

#5: That look is back

Any lingering doubt about the quality of Bayern’s standing among the game’s top squads is gone. By performing with the quality it displayed versus PSG, Bayern has firmly re-established its standing among the elites. The last chapter of the Carlo Ancelotti Era left some observers with the feeling that Bayern might be experiencing a bit of a downturn. Not anymore. This game was more about Bayern’s pride and steel than the actual final result. The belief and re-establishment of the team’s collective confidence was never more evident than against PSG.