It’s finally here — THE biggest game of the season. After seven long years, Bayern Munich finally contest the Champions League final once again, with Paris Saint-Germain standing in the way of the elusive big-eared trophy.
Hansi Flick has proven his genius this season, but it will all be for naught unless he comes up with one last plan. Paris have a whole host of superstars at their disposal — chief among them the terrifying duo of Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappe, who can rip any defense to shreds. They will be the chief concern of the Bavarians, who have some tough choices to make in the lineup.
Bayern Munich have crushed Chelsea, hammered Barcelona, and swept Lyon aside to make it here. Now, it seems like ninety minutes in Lisbon will determine the team’s fate.
Neither side has any significant injuries, with Keylor Navas and Marco Verratti declared fit for the game. With that in mind, knowing Hansi Flick, there will be no real changes to Bayern Munich’s lineup.
Robert Lewandowski, the Champions League top scorer AND assist provider, will start up top, accompanied by the ever-enigmatic Thomas Muller. The pair had a lackluster game against Lyon, so they have a duty to show up in a big way against PSG. Bayern won’t be able to beat the Parisians without being able to give as good as they get, and no one at Bayern is better than dishing out goals and assists than the vaunted Mullendowski pairing.
Of course, they won’t be left without support. Serge Gnabry is set to start on the wings, with Croatian winger Ivan Perisic on the opposite flank. Kingsley Coman, the former PSG academy player, is also an option to start. However, given how Flick is a fan of stable lineups, Perisic is the most likely candidate for the left wing spot, despite his mediocre performance against Lyon in the semis. Coman and Philippe Coutinho will probably be Bayern’s #1 and #2 options from the bench.
In midfield is where things get complicated. As noted by many after the semifinals, Thiago Alcantara had an off day. Meanwhile, Benjamin Pavard is fit and ready to play — he was impressively sharp in his cameo against Lyon. If the Frenchman can return to right-back, Joshua Kimmich could start in a midfield pairing with Leon Goretzka. While Flick is a huge fan of stability, this is a switch he could be considering for a number of reasons:
- Putting Pavard at right-back would make Bayern more defensively stable against PSG, especially given that Neymar will be attacking down that flank.
- Kimmich and Goretzka could be a good fit to counter Marco Verratti, who is probably one of the best midfielders on the world. We don’t know if Verratti will start, but assuming he will means that Bayern will have a tough time in the midfield battle.
Of course, this being Flick, we have too assume that he’s not going to change a thing, especially when it’s a final. That means a fielding standard midfield pairing of Thiago and Goretzka, and hoping that Thiago isn’t too hung up on impending move to Liverpool to concentrate on the game.
Following the same logic, expect the defense to remain unchanged. Jerome Boateng suffered a muscular issue and was substituted as a precaution against Lyon, but it’s unlikely that Niklas Sule will start overt the veteran in the final. While Sule is faster and seemed sharp in his cameos so far, he lacks match practice and isn’t as experienced as Boateng when it comes to playing big games.
Inexperience isn’t an issue for the rest of the back line, however. David Alaba will take his usual place in the center of the defense, with Alphonso Davies and Joshua Kimmich at the fullback positions. The whole world will be watching Davies, as he’ll be tasked with tracking PSG’s terrifyingly quick forwards. It’s a huge ask for a teenager who was playing in MLS not long ago, but being at Bayern Munich means that Phonzie has to rise to the occasion. The Canadian will be one of the most important players on the pitch for Hansi Flick on Sunday.
If all else fails, Manuel Neuer is Bayern Munich’s last line of defense. The German captain and goalkeeper has been excellent all season, but given the risky nature of Bayern’s high defensive line, he will need to produce some special saves if Angel Di Maria, Neymar, or Mbappe get behind the back line.
So, how will Bayern Munich line up against PSG? Here’s our prediction:
- Kingsley Coman in for Ivan Perisic on the left. It would allow Davies to play more conservatively. However, Coman’s lack of end product is a concern.
- Benjamin Pavard in for Thiago, Kimmich moves to midfield. Another defensive move, it gives Bayern more stability on the flank Neymar loves to attack.
- Niklas Sule in for Jerome Boateng. Süle’s pace would be an asset. Also, it’s possible that Boateng isn’t 100% recovered from the injury he got against Lyon.
Hansi Flick has been making the A and B teams train in preparation for the game. Here’s a picture of the A-team:
If you trust this picture: No changes in the starting line-up. With Kimmich, Thiago and Perisic. @SPORT1 #PSGFCB #PSG #FCBayern pic.twitter.com/O7i9B4DhAz— Florian Plettenberg (@Plettigoal) August 22, 2020
Looks like our prediction is spot-on so far.
Hansi Flick had quite an in-depth chat with Thiago here. What were they talking about?
Interesting to see the intensive talk between #Flick and #Thiago. What do you think the coach is explaining in this situation? By the way: Can not imagine that the Spaniard will sit on the bench against #PSG. @SPORT1 #PSGFCB pic.twitter.com/JrOZ0ppv5i— Florian Plettenberg (@Plettigoal) August 22, 2020
Benjamin Pavard confirms that he is not fully fit. Looks like he’s not gonna start, which we already knew.
Pavard: "I am not at 100%. The staff were impressed that I got so far ahead. We will have to see with the coach, I am available. Whether I am a substitute or a starter, I am available to the coach, I will give my all as I have always done"— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) August 22, 2020
Meanwhile, Thomas Tuchel gives an update on his team’s injury situation:
Tuchel: "Keylor will have a test in training then we'll decide if he can play. Verratti & Gueye are back in training & are available. Marco's injury is a knock, not muscular. It's a question of whether he's in pain. He can't play 120min. We'll decide tomorrow whether he'll start"— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) August 22, 2020