For Bayern Munich alum Didi Hamann, the road to this year’s Champions League Final runs through Bavaria. In his column for Sky Sports last week, Hamann praised his former club for a job phenomenally well done against Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16.
“You can hardly play better than Bayern in the round of 16 against PSG,” Hamann wrote. “The way Bayern defended at the back and controlled the game overall was really good.”
Bayern’s convincing second leg display was helped on by a narrowly averted disaster in the first half, when goalkeeper Yann Sommer lost the ball in his own box and had to be bailed out by center-back Matthijs de Ligt. Still, the overall team defense was an outstanding effort.
“It’s a sign of a good team that a team-mate irons out a mistake,” Hamann added. “Matthijs de Ligt’s save was strong but what Dayot Upamecano played was sensational. It helps if you have a spokesman in defense, and I think De Ligt speaks a lot, but when Upamecano play like they did against PSG, you don’t have to speak much.
“For me, Bayern are one of the favorites for the title, if not the top favourite. If you want to win the Champions League this year, you have to beat Bayern.”
Hamann was less charitable towards Bayern’s opponents, slamming the entire glitzy-spending sporting project at PSG — in contrast to the German Rekordmeister’s patient and foundational approach. Both teams have stars; Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé are no slouches. But what Bayern have is a core.
“You cannot buy identity and identification,” Hamann said simply.
Indeed, in the Round of 16, that’s exactly how it played out. Now Bayern have only to await the results of Friday’s Champions League draw to learn who their next opponents will be.