PSG vs. Bayern Munich
Venue: Estadio da Luz, Lisbon
Kick off: 8PM
The Estadio da Luz plays host to the 2019-20 Champions League final tonight as first-time finalists Paris Saint-Germain take on five-time winners of the competition Bayern Munich.
Both teams comfortably made it through their semi-finals with 3-0 wins over RB Leipzig and Lyon respectively and will now battle to be crowned kings of Europe – a title which would complete an historic treble for either club.
A fresh slice of history beckons in Lisbon for one of these giants as they face off in club football’s most prestigious match, but their past history at this stage of the competition could barely be more different.
Bayern have been here and done it all before – only Real Madrid can top their tally of 11 European Cup and Champions League finals, while only Madrid, AC Milan and Liverpool have got their hands on the trophy more often.
It has not been all triumph and glory for the Bavarian juggernauts, though, and they have lost as many finals as they have won in this competition, Juventus being the only team to have been beaten more often at this stage.
PSG know all about despair in Europe’s premier club competition; their recent history has been littered by high-profile failures and it remains impossible to consider their Champions League past without thoughts immediately going back to their Neymar-inspired 6-1 defeat to Barcelona in 2016-17.
Now with Neymar in their ranks and beginning to show the decisive influence PSG have been hoping for since his world-record move, the Ligue 1 giants have the chance to finally banish those memories and the hurt of seven successive seasons in which they failed to make it past the quarter-finals.
The owners have made no secret of the fact that the Champions League is the holy grail for them and, after years of underachievement in the competition, it could be written in the stars for them to pull off their crowning glory in the club’s 50th anniversary year.
Success at home is almost a given now for Le Parisiens, who have won 24 of the last 28 domestic trophies available to them, but victory on Sunday would see them finally join the top table of Europe’s elite.
While that is the biggest and tastiest carrot for the owners, in time PSG’s possible achievement of completing a clean sweep of trophies this season may be viewed as even more historic, having already wrapped up the Ligue 1, Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophee des Champions titles this season.
Celtic in 1966-67 are the only club to have ever lifted a quadruple of European Cup, domestic league, domestic cup and domestic league cup before, and PSG could take it as a good omen that their European Cup success famously came in Lisbon too.
No French club has ever completed the treble before either as PSG look to become only the ninth team to achieve that feat, but they are facing a Bayern side similarly familiar with a domestic monopoly on titles and with far more experience in Europe.
Indeed, Bayern won a treble of their own just seven years ago when they picked up their fifth Champions League crown, and victory on Sunday would see them join Barcelona as the only clubs to do so on two separate occasions.
The German outfit have been simply scintillating en route to the final, plundering an incredible 42 goals during a perfect 10 wins from 10 games in the competition this season.
An 8-2 obliteration of Barcelona in the quarter-finals was undoubtedly the most memorable of those wins, although amazingly it does have competition – Bayern have also beaten Tottenham Hotspur 7-2 and Red Star Belgrade 6-0 in one-off games, as well as hammering Chelsea 7-1 on aggregate.
Rarely, if ever, has there been a more emphatic route to the final, with Bayern already boasting the best goals-per-game ratio in Champions League history and needing three more goals to equal Barcelona’s all-time record of 45 in a Champions League campaign – recorded over 16 games in 1999-00.
With such a record it is easy to forget that Bayern had been in some trouble earlier in the campaign, leading to Niko Kovac being sacked and replaced by Hansi Flick, who has since steered them back on to the right path.
It is not only Bayern’s European record which is formidable; German champions for an eighth year in a row, they come into this match having won 27 of their last 28 outings across all competitions including each of the last 19 – an unprecedented achievement for a German top-flight team.
Yet there is not quite an aura of invincibility about the team despite the results suggesting otherwise, and PSG will have taken belief from Lyon’s performance in the semi-finals despite their fellow Ligue 1 side being on the end of a 3-0 defeat.
Bayern’s clean sheet in that match was more down to some key saves from Manuel Neuer than any particularly robust defending in front of him, with Lyon capitalising on a high defensive line on more than one occasion without taking their chances.
It is difficult to see the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Angel di Maria and Mauro Icardi being quite so wasteful if gifted the same chances, and it is also difficult to see Bayern changing the way they play given their ability to outscore any team.
Thomas Tuchel’s side will therefore be confident that they will get opportunities, and with the best defence in the competition this season they also seem well-equipped to keep Bayern’s own dangerous attackers at bay.
PSG’s semi-final victory over RB Leipzig was more comfortable than Bayern’s over Lyon, although their overall route to the final has not been quite as straightforward.
The French outfit needed to overcome a first-leg deficit to beat Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 before a dramatic stoppage-time comeback against Atalanta BC in the one-legged quarter-final – two goals in added-on time ending the Italian outfit’s dream run.
However, PSG began their European campaign with a statement-making win over Real Madrid, and the Atalanta comeback in particular could prove to be a seminal moment for their fortunes in Europe.
Many would have been expecting a more difficult path towards a potential first Champions League crown than Atalanta and RB Leipzig in the quarters and semis respectively, but in Bayern they face arguably the biggest test in world football at the moment.
Sunday represents a tantalising opportunity to make themselves the team to beat, though, and if they are finally able to lift their most coveted prize aloft then there could be no doubting that they are worthy champions.
Road to the final
Group stage: PSG 3-0 Real Madrid
Group stage: Galatasaray 0-1 PSG
Group stage: Club Brugge 0-5 PSG
Group stage: PSG 1-0 Club Brugge
Group stage: Real Madrid 2-2 PSG
Group stage: PSG 5-0 Galatasaray
Last 16: Borussia Dortmund 2-1 PSG
Last 16: PSG 2-0 Borussia Dortmund
Quarter-final: Atalanta 1-2 PSG
Semi-final: RB Leipzig 0-3 PSG
Group stage: Bayern Munich 3-0 Red Star Belgrade
Group stage: Tottenham Hotspur 2-7 Bayern Munich
Group stage: Olympiacos 2-3 Bayern Munich
Group stage: Bayern Munich 2-0 Olympiacos
Group stage: Red Star Belgrade 0-6 Bayern Munich
Group stage: Bayern Munich 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Last 16: Chelsea 0-3 Bayern Munich
Last 16: Bayern Munich 4-1 Chelsea
Quarter-final: Barcelona 2-8 Bayern Munich
Semi-final: Lyon 0-3 Bayern Munich
Paris Saint-Germain possible XI: Rico, Kehrer, Thiago Silva, Kimpembe, Bernat, Verratti, Marquinhos, Herrera, Di Maria, Neymar, Mbappe.
Bayern Munich possible XI: Neuer, Kimmich, Boateng, Alaba, Davies, Goretzka, Thiago, Perisic, Muller, Gnabry, Lewandowski.