For PSG, it is a chance to exact revenge for last season’s Champions League finale and for Bayern Munich it is one more opportunity to buck the odds and add to the lore surrounding this squad.
Simply put, this is a game where seasons are lost or legends are made. For Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, there is no in-between those two distinctions.
By all accounts, the Bavarians should be the underdogs. Let’s count the ways:
- Missing stars: One superstar striker and one excellent center-back are home in Munich rehabbing, while another key player sits out with COVID-19. Losing players the caliber of Robert Lewandowski, Niklas Süle, and Serge Gnabry for a match of this magnitude is quite a roadblock to overcome. More, Leon Goretzka, Lucas Hernandez, Kingsley Coman, and Jerome Boateng are all playing through injuries (at least as of now) — and that does not even include missing a player like Corentin Tolisso, who could have helped with the team’s lack of depth.
- Fumbling front office dealings: One underplayed story was that sporting director Hasan “Brazzo” Salihamidzic used the last Champions League match day to drop the news on Boateng that he would not be coming back to the squad after this season. Talk about deflating morale at a bad time.
- Internal bickering: Speaking of Brazzo, the public feud that has played out between the sporting director and Hansi Flick has generated a lot of headlines and even more questions that the players, club CEO, club president, and the manager have all had to answer publicly.
- The grind of a condensed calendar year +: Since returning from the initial COVID-19 quarantine, Bayern Munich (because of its success) has had to slam in so much football that it is nearly impossible that the entire squad is not dealing with some kind of mental and/or physical fatigue. Even if the club has multiple ways to combat fatigue...it’s still there.
- Slumping starters: Star wingers Leroy Sane and Kingsley Coman have combined for one goal over the past two-and-a-half months. Sane, in fact, has not scored in the Bundesliga since January 3rd (Sane did score in the UCL against Lazio in February).
So, yeah, when I tell people that I am not only optimistic about this match, but am actually picking Bayern Munich to win — and advance to the UCL semifinals — they naturally think that I am making my coffee Irish once again (which may or may not be true).
But, hey, there are actually reasons to think Bayern Munich can do this.
- The mentality of champions: With Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Müller, and Manuel Neuer leading the way, there is no reason to think Bayern Munich is not entering this fixture respectful of PSG, but also very confident in their own abilities.
- A manager who has earned respect and devotion: If there is one thing Flick has developed at Bayern Munich it is a feeling of unity within the squad. Flick’s ability to build relationships and communicate with this players has formed a foundation of trust within the group. When that exists, players are not only more willing to leave it all on the pitch, there is an extra hunger and desire to achieve the common goal. Make no mistake, there are no individual agendas on this Bayern Munich roster heading into this match. The collective focus is on winning with a result that allows the team to advance.
- A potential breakout: Just as Sane and Coman have slumped, they can just as easily break out for multiple goals. These two players hold a major key to the game even if they do not score, however. If the duo can create chaos going down the flanks, the center of the box will open up, leaving room for Müller, Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Jamal Musiala or whoever mans the center of the park to take the game over.
So, yeah, I’m going with Bayern Munich and I’m confident — just don’t sell my morning coffee.
Hype Music: “Dragula” by Rob Zombie
Man...how do you choose the right music for this? Should I hit the respective Rocky soundtracks to throw some instrumentals or somewhat cheesy 80s rock at you with a Philly twist? Nah, I won’t subject you to that, but I will give you these two gems. I’ll keep it somewhat mainstream for you this week.
Let’s start with a popular track from Rob Zombie that many should know. “Dragula” hits hard quickly and never slows the intensity down:
I wanted to use “Follow” by Powerman 5000 as a bonus track, but it was not available on You Tube. Instead I’ll give you “Timebomb” by Beck — which is also fantastic right from the get-go:
Let’s hope that Bayern Munich attack is ticking like a time bomb.
And yeah...I’ll admit it now...that coffee had some help this morning.
I’ve laid out my thoughts above and also in the podcast — this won’t be easy, but it is exactly the platform where Bayern Munich shows its greatness and its superior mindset.
Prediction: Paris Saint-Germain 1-3 Bayern Munich
Last Bundesliga match day record: 4-5
Overall record: 134-130*
Guest predictors’ record: 23-4*
(*includes DFL-Supercup, DFB-Pokal, Club World Cup, and Champions League)