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Champions League final: Why Bayern v PSG is such a mouth-watering match-up

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By Micah Richards
Former Man City defender

There is so much attacking quality on display in Sunday’s Champions League final that it will be a joy to watch.

It’s not often you get a massive occasion like this with two teams who just love to play football and are going to go out thinking ‘let’s see who can score the most’, but that is the way it is going to be in Lisbon.

Bayern Munich are like a machine and will be very difficult to stop, but Paris St-Germain have such wonderfully talented individuals that you could never write them off.

Honestly, I couldn’t call a winner – I just know there will be goals. It is just going to come down to which team can take their chances at the vital moments.

Of course you could say that about most games but the difference here is that there could be so many of them.

There is so much attacking quality on display in Sunday’s Champions League final that it will be a joy to watch.

It’s not often you get a massive occasion like this with two teams who just love to play football and are going to go out thinking ‘let’s see who can score the most’, but that is the way it is going to be in Lisbon.

Bayern Munich are like a machine and will be very difficult to stop, but Paris St-Germain have such wonderfully talented individuals that you could never write them off.

Honestly, I couldn’t call a winner – I just know there will be goals. It is just going to come down to which team can take their chances at the vital moments.

Of course you could say that about most games but the difference here is that there could be so many of them.

Bayern have fielded the same team in each of their three previous Champions League games in Lisbon, against Chelsea, Barcelona and Lyon, scoring 15 goals in those matches, and conceding three. In total they have scored 42 goals in 10 European matches this season, giving them the highest goals-per-game ratio in the competition’s history

This Bayern team give you lots of opportunities – we saw that in the early stages of their previous two ties against Barcelona and Lyon.

Neither of those teams were able to make the most of the openings they had when those games were still in the balance, but it will be fascinating to see how Bayern react if they fall behind this time.

I don’t particularly fancy PSG’s chances of keeping Bayern out, but the German side play with such a high line that surely Kylian Mbappe and Neymar will be able to use their pace to exploit the space behind their defence.

Clearly, Bayern’s approach works – they are on a 29-game unbeaten run and have already won a domestic double – but the way they press teams in the opposition half with their full-backs high up the pitch is very risky against a team with PSG’s strengths.

PSG’s team that beat RB Leipzig in the semi-final. If Keylor Navas recovers from the hamstring injury he sustained against Atalanta in the quarter-finals, he could replace Sergio Rico in goal

I’ve loved watching the final stages of this year’s competition over the past few days and the one-leg format in Lisbon has made it very exciting. We’ve had some incredible matches, and so many moments to remember.

There was more jeopardy because teams knew it was all or nothing, and there were no second chances.

The same applies for the final. If it does live up to expectations, we are in for a real treat.

‘Muller is terrifying to play against’

The biggest problem for any team that faces Bayern is how the hell do you keep them out?

Stop them down the middle, and they will hit you down the flanks. Yes, Robert Lewandowski has scored a ridiculous number of goals this season, but they have so many other threats

Bayern’s Poland striker Robert Lewandowski has scored 15 goals in the Champions League this season. He has scored in each of the nine European games he has played in 2019-20

Look at Serge Gnabry – his form is incredible when you consider we weren’t really taking him seriously only a couple of years ago. Ivan Perisic is so dangerous too and then there is Thomas Muller.

I can say from experience that Muller is terrifying to play against. You look at him and he is not fast or strong, and he is not particularly great technically either.

He is just so clever when it comes to finding space for himself or creating it for others, anywhere in the opposition half. You cannot switch off for a second against him because he will punish you. He is so difficult for defenders to deal with because of how well he times his runs – he arrives so late in the box.

Where Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller touched the ball against Barcelona (l) and Lyon (r)

I’d compare him to my old Manchester City team-mate James Milner for his work ethic because he is just relentless. You don’t get anything from him easily because he reads the game so well.

Any of Bayern’s four forward players could decide the game, but the same goes for their two full-backs. Alphonso Davies made Barcelona’s Nelson Semedo look like a pub footballer in their quarter-final.

His battle with Angel di Maria down Bayern’s left side is going to be fascinating, and the same goes for Mbappe against Joshua Kimmich down the right.

PSG will want to see Mbappe and Di Maria running at the Bayern defence, but they will have to help out defensively too and the aim for both teams will be to get the balance right in those wide areas.

‘Boateng is not catching Mbappe – and neither is anyone else’

Mbappe is the fastest footballer in the world according to data from French newspaper Le Figaro, clocking a top speed of 36km/h

I don’t see Bayern changing their system on Sunday and defending deep, even though they know PSG have the players to punish any weakness they have at the back.

Jerome Boateng is one of the world’s best defenders, but you can get in behind him if you turn him around. I played with him at City and he is not the quickest in that situation.

Davies is usually very good at getting back to help his centre-halves but if Boateng is left isolated in a scenario like that, he is not catching Mbappe – and neither is anyone else.

I’d back Mbappe to take any chances that come his way too. He is the closest thing to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s level at the moment and I have never seen a player who is so quick but also technically good and has got such good decision-making skills when it matters. They are not normal for a 21-year-old.

Then you have Neymar, who can be so infuriating to watch when he is wasteful like he was against Atalanta in the quarter-finals, but is always able to decide a game with a piece of magic.

Neymar celebrates after winning the Champions League with Barcelona in 2015. The Brazilian joined PSG for a world-record fee of £200m in 2017

It is mainly Neymar’s numbers that stop him being thought of as being as good as Ronaldo and Messi, because he does not score as many goals as they do, but victory on Sunday would maybe change that feeling. People would have to give him a lot more respect.

When the Brazilian left Barcelona for PSG in 2017 it was seen by many as a mistake, but if he lifts the Champions League trophy at Estadio da Luz then it totally justifies that decision.

What a story that would be for him, and for PSG too. They must feel like it is their year after reaching the final for the first time – but, after the season they have had, so will Bayern.

Source: BBC Sports

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