Preview: Bayern Munich vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Ninety minutes that could potentially make or break Christophe Galtier’s time in the Paris Saint-Germain hotseat await on Wednesday night, as Bayern Munich welcome the French champions to the Allianz Arena in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 showdown.
A solitary strike from ex-PSG product Kingsley Coman was enough to propel the Bavarians to a 1-0 first-leg win three weeks ago, as a familiar sense of deja vu rears its ugly head for the ardent Parisiens.
Shades of the 2019-20 final arose in the French capital during Bayern’s reunion with PSG, who lost the showpiece event three years ago to a Coman winner, and it was an identical story when the German champions came to town for the first leg of their last-16 tie.
On Valentine’s Day, there was no love lost between Coman and PSG, who succumbed to a 53rd-minute winner from their former academy graduate, and Julian Nagelsmann’s side survived a late sending off for Benjamin Pavard to put one foot firmly in the last eight.
Also halfway there to revenge over PSG for eliminating them in the 2020-21 quarter-finals, Bayern ought to feel hopeful of avoiding just a second last-16 exit from their last 12 Champions League campaigns – the perennial German champions bowed out at this point to Liverpool in 2018-19.
Furthermore, not since the 2010-11 campaign have Bayern been eliminated from the Champions League when winning the first leg of a knockout tie, while 15 of their last 17 top-tier European games at the Allianz Arena have ended in victory, including all three of their group-stage games against Barcelona, Inter Milan and Viktoria Plzen this season – with three clean sheets in tow.
Not since April 2018 have Bayern failed to score at home in the Champions League, and Nagelsmann’s men remained in control of the tightly-fought Bundesliga title race thanks to a 2-1 win over Stuttgart on Saturday, only a few hours before a new chapter of history was written for PSG.
While more undesirable defending was a minor blot on the notebook, PSG’s 4-2 win over Nantes in Ligue 1 at the weekend will go down in history for the French champions, who etched Kylian Mbappe’s name into their record books as the club’s all-time top goalscorer.
Level with Edinson Cavani on 200 goals for PSG heading into the contest, Mbappe struck PSG’s fourth and final goal late on before letting emotion take over, but there is little time for the 24-year-old to bask in Parisian glory while their European destiny hangs in the balance, again.
With the axe hovering dangerously above his head, Galtier surely knows what is coming if PSG are eliminated from the Champions League last 16 for the fifth time in seven seasons, and the capital giants have only progressed from one of their six Champions League knockout ties in which they have lost the first leg.
PSG managed to take seven points from their three Champions League group-stage games on the road earlier this season, but not since October 2020 have they managed to keep a European clean sheet away from home – a run of 12 games with their shaky defence being breached.
From the 12 previous meetings between Bayern and PSG, the German champions have six wins to their name, while the French champions have also racked up a half-dozen victories, but Wednesday’s game will prove to be an unlucky 13 for one manager.
Bayern Munich Champions League form:
Bayern Munich form (all competitions):
Paris Saint-Germain Champions League form:
Paris Saint-Germain form (all competitions):
We say: Bayern Munich 2-2 Paris Saint-Germain (Bayern win 3-2 on aggregate)
Even with regular ankle victim Neymar watching another crucial European contest from the sidelines, the lethal Messi-Mbappe combination can no doubt trouble a ravaged Bayern backline, and Wednesday’s second leg should certainly live up to the billing.
While surely capable of wiping out Bayern’s impeccable defensive home record in Europe, PSG were exposed on several occasions in their recent wins over Lille and Nantes, and the prolific Bavarians can match their visitors’ ruthlessness to advance to the last eight and prolong the Parisiens’ European agony.