Despite out-shooting and out-possessing Paris Saint-Germain in leg 1 of the Champions League quarter-finals, Bayern Munich fell 3-2 at the Allianz Arena, but were arguably the better team throughout the 90 minutes.
Of course, not having both Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry didn’t make life any easier for Hansi Flick’s men and they also lost both Niklas Süle and Leon Goretzka to muscular injuries before the halftime whistle had blown.
Ahead of the second leg at the Parc de Princes in Paris, Manuel Neuer said he’s confident his side can overturn the deficit in the French capital and progress to the semifinals, even with all of the injuries to players in the squad (Bundesliga.com). Specifically, Neuer highlighted PSG’s defensive frailties as a focal point for where Bayern can really hurt them.
“We need to stay calm in our heads, but have fire in our heart. We want to approach the game the right way, with motivation, a good attitude of course, and the stability you need against such quick players. We’ll need to keep our cool, play attacking football and put them under pressure. They have problems at the back. If we create as many chances as we did in Munich, then we can do it,” Neuer explained.
Looking back on stats from leg 1, Bayern tallied a total of 12 shots on target while PSG only registered 5. As far as shots not on frame, Bayern mustered 31, while PSG only recorded 6 total. Some pundits argued that Neuer could’ve done a little bit better for Kylian Mbappe’s first goal of the match, getting beat at his near post, but Neuer was hardly at fault for Marquinhos’s goal or Mbappe’s second.
As much as PSG has defensive frailties to be exposed, Bayern also has to remain wary of the constant attacking threat of Mbappe, Neymar, and Angel Di Maria. Not to mention, Paris will also have midfielder metronome Marco Verratti back in the lineup after he missed out on leg 1 due to recovering from the coronavirus. Flick will be without Süle for the second leg and it’s likely that he’ll be forced to push David Alaba up to midfield alongside Joshua Kimmich, so despite having bruised ribs, it looks as if Lucas Hernandez is slated for a start at center back alongside Jerome Boateng. Bayern has had there defensive issues this season, and stats actually show that it’s been a season to forget in that respect, despite still leading the Bundesliga table by five points over RB Leipzig.
1.2 goals conceded per game, 51 goals conceded, 17 times conceded the first goal and only 12 clean sheets in all competitions - Bayern's worst defensive record since Manuel Neuer joined the club in 2011-12 [ Kicker] pic.twitter.com/RtBbkfVGbs— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) April 11, 2021
Regardless of the defensive stats not covering Bayern in glory by any stretch, Neuer’s assertion about keeping the pressure on PSG is the right way to approach the second leg. They simply cannot afford to give the reigning Ligue 1 champions too many opportunities, because we saw in leg 1 that they can make Bayern pay with only a handful of chances. The margin for error is razor thin.