Bayern Munich take on Paris Saint-Germain in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Both sides have had a few changes, most notably Mauricio Pochettino taking over PSG's helm from Thomas Tuchel in January. In this part, we take a look at why this could be a bad draw for the defending champions. Here are 5 reasons why:
Bayern’s Jell-O defense
This one is no surprise. Bayern have already conceded more goals this season (35) than they had in each of their past 9 seasons and there are still 8 games left to go. Keeping aside recent games where the defense has put out good performances, Bayern have conceded goals left, right and center this season.
The ease with which opponents sometimes ran through the entire team with little to no resistance was scary to watch. Bayern have also had lapses of concentration in early periods of the game and were the first to concede a goal in several matches this season. Any lapse in focus against an attack as potent as PSG’s could be lethal to Bayern.
The recent defensive performances have instilled some confidence in the fans. Having said that, how well Hansi Flick and Bayern translate them on the European mainstage remains to be seen.
Lack of depth in Bayern’s midfield
The Bayern squad saw a few of changes and the bench is much weaker than their last meeting with PSG. The departure of Thiago Alcantara has left a huge gap between Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka from the rest of the central midfielders in Bayern. Bayern’s overall game drops by a significant amount when one of the duo misses a game.
Thiago played both the roles of Kimmich and Goretzka at a world class level. The replacements in Corentin Tolisso and Marc Roca have failed to impress so far. Knockout ties tend to be very intense until the last minute. With the possibility of an extra 30 mins beyond the 180, there definitely will be a possibility of one or both Kimmich and Goretzka not being on the pitch. That opens up a big opportunity for PSG, considering the way Bayern have played this season.
I agree this take might be bordering on paranoia, but it is what it is.
Two demanding games in a span of four days
Bayern face title contenders RB Leipzig on the April 3rd before taking on PSG in the quarterfinals of the UCL on April 7th.
Both Leipzig and PSG will demand Bayern’s 100 percent throughout the 90 mins. Leipzig are no longer in the CL and only four points behind the leaders Bayern in the Bundesliga. Hansi Flick will ideally want to finish the game early and rest the core players. RB will look to push this advantage and force the champions to play all out until the end. The last thing Bayern want is a tired squad against PSG.
The Kylian Mbappe factor
The French superstar will be the biggest threat from the opposite camp. He single-handedly knocked out FC Barcelona in the round of 16. Even against Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern in 2017/18 season, Mbappe was the lone scorer in the home leg of the group stage, which saw Bayern win 3-1.
His pace, dribbling ability and finishing will pose a threat especially with the Bayern have been going to sleep in the early phases of the game. The last time when Mbappe met Bayern in the finals, he failed to score despite getting a couple of really good chances. Kylian will be looking to make up for it this time and take his side through to the semis.
Two equals that match in playstyle, strengths as well as weaknesses
The German giants will take on a very similar side in the oil giants from France. The playstyle — high pressing and fast paced possession based attack while being equally capable of destroying teams on the counter.
PSG have been much better defensively in their league but there is more than what meets the eye. Against Barca in the second leg, Messi and co. created numerous chances with their underperforming attack. Bayern should be able to exploit the Thiago Silva sans Paris defence and expose similar problems that reek Bayern’s own defence.
PSG will have additional motivation to take revenge for the final loss while Bayern will look to take them on in their signature “Mia san mia” style. With emotions and stakes running high, this game will have a lot of spice that could seep into the performances, too.