Reigning European champions Bayern Munich take on Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, resuming their campaign in the UEFA Champions League.
Following the international break, Bayern Munich resumed their campaign on Saturday in the best way possible, securing a 1-0 win over RB Leipzig. The narrow victory helped them extend the gap at the top of the Bundesliga table to seven points, essentially helping them move one step closer towards securing the seemingly inevitable ninth consecutive title.
The Bavarians will have the opportunity to add further joy to their season as they welcome Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. They will be hoping to secure a home advantage and most importantly, avoid conceding a goal as Hansi Flick looks to land two back-to-back titles in Europe.
PSG, in contrast, have had a disastrous return to football, losing 1-0 to fellow title challengers in LOSC Lille. The defeat helped Les Dogues to dethrone the capital club from the top and earn a three-point lead while it continued PSG’s awful run of form against top clubs this season, especially under Mauricio Pochettino.
The French giants do deserve credit for knocking FC Barcelona out from the Champions League in the previous round, but were lucky, in many ways, to avoid an onslaught in the second leg that seemingly awakened their memories from a few years ago.
Nevertheless, against Bayern, Les Parisiens will brace themselves for a significantly tougher ask and here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this eye-catching encounter at the Allianz Arena this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
Serge Gnabry has tested positive for Coronavirus. The FC Bayern forward is feeling fine and is now quarantining at home. ℹ️ pic.twitter.com/CATt1eHSy7
— 🇺🇸 FC Bayern US 🇨🇦 (@FCBayernUS) April 6, 2021
The biggest absentee for Bayern Munich heading into this game is the obvious one in Robert Lewandowski. The star striker picked up an injury during the international break and was ruled out for a minimum of four weeks.
The Pole subsequently missed the clash against RB Leipzig, but it seems Hansi Flick will have to brace himself for another blow as the club has now confirmed that Serge Gnabry has tested positive for Covid-19 and is set to miss both legs against PSG.
It could force Flick to opt for the same attacking setup that started against Leipzig, with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting spearheading the frontline, operating just ahead of the creative trifecta of Kingsley Coman, Leroy Sane and the in-form Thomas Muller.
Speaking of in-form players, Leon Goretzka is a bigger threat for PSG than Joshua Kimmich due to his driving runs forward that makes him a target man, especially from set-pieces. He notably scored the winning goal against Leipzig and has found the back of the net in three of his last four league matches.
Defensively, Hansi is likely to recall both Jerome Boateng and Alphonso Davies, with the latter hoping to use his pace to offer the width in attack while his crosses could also prove to be useful. Benjamin Pavard, in contrast, is likely to operate deeper, hoping to offer defensive aid for the two centre-backs in Boateng and David Alaba, with Manuel Neuer starting in between the sticks.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Sane, Muller, Coman; Choupo-Moting
Without having to deal with Lewandowski, PSG head coach Mauricio Pochettino has an excellent opportunity to nullify Bayern Munich’s attacking prowess by employing a man-oriented pressing scheme.
Although keeping tabs on players like Coman and Sane is always difficult, the Argentine will be hoping for some resistance from the two full-backs in Colin Dagba and Abdou Diallo. The main defensive responsibility will be put on the shoulders of captain Marquinhos, alongside his partner Presnel Kimpembe.
— Ander Herrera (@AnderHerrera) April 6, 2021
Pochettino faces a real problem in midfield, though, as Marco Verratti has been ruled out due to Covid-19 while Danilo Pereira is suffering from an injury. In addition, Leandro Paredes is facing a suspension, thus leaving no option but to recall Ander Herrera in the double-pivot alongside Idrissa Gueye.
PSG can alternatively start Marquinhos in holding midfield alongside Gueye, but that little manoeuvre could come at the expense of a lack of stability in central defence. These are times when Les Parisiens could have used players like Thiago Silva.
Speaking of experienced players, the departure of both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani has left a massive void in the club’s attacking unit and even though Moise Kean has done well, he does lack the consistency.
Nevertheless, PSG will have the privilege of starting the attacking trio of Angel Di Maria, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar this weekend while Julian Draxler might get the nod ahead of Rafinha in the number ten role due to his experience of playing at the Allianz Arena.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Navas; Dagba, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Diallo; Herrera, Gueye; Di Maria, Draxler, Mbappe; Neymar
- Bayern Munich’s record in the UEFA Champions League since Hansi Flick took charge reads 54 goals scored and only 11 conceded across 15 wins and one draw.
- No fewer than 18 Bayern Munich players in the squad have scored at least one goal this season, with Thomas Müller and Serge Gnabry joining Robert Lewandowski by hitting double figures.
- Kingsley Coman has had a direct hand in a team-leading six Champions League goals for Bayern Munich this season (three goals, three assists).
- Jamal Musiala became Bayern’s youngest European Cup/Champions League scorer, aged 17 years and 363 days, with his strike against Lazio in the last 16.
- Bayern Munich have reached the Champions League final 11 times, whereas PSG – who have never lifted the trophy – have only gone beyond the quarter-finals twice.
Player to Watch
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
Flick on Choupo-Moting: "Choupo is an important player for us as a backup. He has shown his qualities in Leipzig. He's important in the team because he's a good guy and unites the team a bit. We are glad that we have him" pic.twitter.com/wq4oXzjQOa
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) April 6, 2021
Despite the presence of players like Neymar, Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappe in the PSG camp, the focus will be on the Bayern Munich attack and how they fare without the services of Robert Lewandowski in a Champions League game, against one of the toughest oppositions to face in Europe.
The Bavarians did quite well against Leipzig on the weekend but did lack the penetration and now with Serge Gnabry ruled out, the onus will be on former PSG man Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to step up and become the club’s main frontman.
The former Mainz attacker actually started in a positive manner against Leipzig but struggled to influence the game as time progressed. Having said that, he does have the experience of playing for PSG and is quite familiar with most of the opponents, including the entire backline – potentially making him the focal point of Bayern’s attack this midweek.
Bayern Munich 2-2 Paris Saint-Germain
It is a gutsy job to bet against Bayern Munich, but without the services of Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry, it is hard to see them being nearly as effective in front of goal, especially against two top-class central defenders. It is also fair to point out that the Bavarians have struggled defensively throughout the course of the campaign.
As such, they could find it difficult to keep up with the quality attack of PSG, although the French outfit has lacked any sort of tactical identity and effectiveness in the build-up since the arrival of Pochettino. It points to an even contest, with both sides likely play out a high-scoring stalemate.