Bayern Munich versus Paris Saint-Germain has in recent years become a headline fixture in the Champions League. This year, the rematch of the 2020 Final takes place in just the Round of 16 — a shame for whichever of these European titans fails to advance, but a treat for the neutral football fan. Bayern take the first leg, 1-0; they’ll welcome PSG to Munich on March 8.
Here are the individual accolades from today.
Jersey Swap: Kylian Mbappé
Talk about a game-changing introduction. Fully fit or not, Mbappé’s early second-half introduction left Julian Nagelsmann scrambling for solutions. First it was Benjamin Pavard, already on a yellow, swapping sides with Matthijs de Ligt in the back three. Then it was Dayot Upamecano. Mbappé was entirely too much to deal with still, the very definition of explosive pace. He’d have had the equalizer if not for a cruel, inches-offside decision on Nuno Mendes.
PSG played one half cowering in their bunker, then much of the second pummelling the fortunate Bavarians into the ground. The difference? Their superstar, in the role of the super-sub.
Der Kaiser: Yann Sommer
For one quiet half, Bayern’s new goalkeeper did nothing more than show his composure. Then the fireworks stated, exploding more or less in his face, literally! Yet the Swiss international stood firm. A double save starting with his face, another sharp reflex to guide it just outside, and sharp clutches in between — Sommer turned in one of his trademark Sommer performances that Bayern have so often been on the other end of in the past.
Shout-out: Dayot Upamecano, who was superbly assured and steady, despite some late-game struggles with pace on the wing. What a difference a year has made in the Frenchman’s acclimation. But really, everyone got in on the defensive heroics today — even the attacking players.
Fußballgott: Joshua Kimmich
Kimmich was often the lone midfielder in possession today. It’s a testament to his abilities to command the game that Bayern can rely on him for this. Although not the most press-resistant player, Kimmich still is a credible single pivot in front of the backline — and it helped that he wasn’t often challenged by the Paris front two of Messi and Neymar.
Kimmich also flashed his variety with a laser strike late in the first half — which somehow was the first real test for keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. When Bayern struggle to make danger in front of goal, it’s their number six who is often called upon to invent something from deep. Recovering loose balls in midfield, slinging passes around, tracking back to make tackles...all in a day’s work for Bayern’s six.
Der Bomber: Jamal Musiala
Musiala is elegance defined. Hard to believe, but this key player for club and country is still a teenager! The only way to un-tether the ball from his feet seems to be to simply knock him over. Today the young maestro was active and undeterred in both phases of the game. And whether he was central or out on the wing, he was an incredible pest who helped to snuff out any ambitions PSG might have had for asserting control. Sharper decisions, and a little more luck, might have seen Musiala land on the scoresheet with an assist.
Meister of the Match: Kingsley Coman
In the first half, Coman vs Achraf Hakimi was just a mismatch. The former Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid wing-back isn’t all that inclined to defend, and Coman has speed to burn. Bayern switched it up for the second half just to ensure both PSG flanks were stretched to their limit. The swap helped Coman’s cross delivery, too.
And soon enough, it proved the breaking point — a truly wonderful cross from Alphonso Davies but an even more spectacular latch-on from Coman to drive it home for the game’s lone goal, which Bayern must scrupulously guard in three weeks’ time.
Coman also handed off his jersey to a ball boy as he was substituted off the pitch. Watch this space!
Kingsley Coman gives his shirt to a ball boy at the Parc des Princes.— Stefan Bienkowski (@SBienkowski) February 14, 2023
Knowing the way PSG operate, that kid will probably be winning the Champions League for Bayern Munich in 4-5 years.
As always, we appreciate all the support!