IT MAY be a clash of the titans, but Paris Saint-Germain go into their first UEFA Champions League final on August 23 as the underdogs, a role they are relatively unaccustomed to, such has been their dominance of French football. Bayern Munich, meanwhile, judging by their form in the competition and in post-lockdown Germany, are ready to reclaim the crown they last won in 2013.
It is a clash between one of Europe’s established giants against the club that represents the controversial modern business paradigm of the game.
Both teams have won their domestic doubles (in the case of PSG it’s a treble) and feature in the top 10 of UEFA’s rankings, Bayern are currently number one, PSG seven. They are also two of Europe’s richest clubs, with both generating north of € 600 million in revenues and wage bills of over € 350 million. They are both profitable and carry negligible amounts of net debt.
According to Transfermarkt, Bayern’s squad, which now includes Leroy Sané, signed from Manchester City but obviously not included in the Champions League 2019-20, has a value of £ 835 million, around £ 110 million more than Paris Saint-Germain’s. PSG have the two most valuable players in Kylian Mbappé and Neymar, but Bayern’s squad has a greater spread of value. KPMG Football Benchmark values Mbappé at € 200 million and Neymar € 148 million, the only two PSG players in the top 50 by value. Bayern, by contrast, have five players in the top 50, Sané being the highest value at € 82 million. Robert Lewandowski, who has had an outstanding season, is valued at € 80 million.
Bayern will be playing in their 11th final and bidding for their sixth title. Included in their five victories is the 1-0 win over Saint-Etienne in 1976. PSG, appearing in their first final, become the fourth French club to reach that stage of the competition, alongside Reims (1956 and 1959), Marseille (1991 and 1993), Saint-Etienne (1976). Only Marseille in 1993 won the Champions League. Three German clubs have won the cup, Bayern (5), Borussia Dortmund (1), Hamburg (1). Bayern have been runners-up five times and Dortmund and Hamburg have also been beaten in the final, along with Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Should PSG win this time, they will become the 23rd European champions since the competition began in 1955-56. The last new winner was Chelsea in 2012.
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Bayern Munich have a 100% record in the 2019-20 Champions League, scoring 42 goals in 10 games, conceding eight. They have beaten three previous winners on the way, Red Star Belgrade, Chelsea and Barcelona and one finalist, Tottenham. PSG have lost just once, in the round of 16 against Dortmund. They have beaten two winners, Dortmund and Real Madrid as well as one runner-up, Bruges.
There are likely to be four members of the last Bayern 2013 side in the squad for this year’s final: Manuel Neymar, Jérôme Boateng, David Alaba and Thomas Müller. Robert Lewandowski was in the Dortmund team beaten by Bayern. From the PSG side, only Neymar has experience of the final, winning with Barcelona in 2015.
Robert Lewandowski of Bayern is the top scorer in this season’s Champions League with an astonishing 15 goals. It will be the first time since 2007 that the top scorer in the competition has not been either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. In 2015, Neymar got close when he was joint top with Messi and CR7.
The two sides have met eight times in the past, with PSG having the upper hand with five wins to Bayern’s three. This is by far the most important clash as it could also represent the dawn of a new age – will it be the kick-start of the PSG era, or merely affirmation of Bayern’s power and self-belief? It promises to be a very compelling contest in Lisbon.
GOTP normally makes a prediction about this time, invariably a hopeless heart over head forecast. So here goes: Bayern 3 PSG 2.