FCB v PSG: The ultimate head-to-head comparison
On Sunday, the footballing world turns its eyes to to Lisbon. From 21.00 CEST, FC Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain face off in the Champions League final at Éstadio da Luz. Both teams have showcased refreshing attacking football this season and are littered with big names. fcbayern.com takes a detailed look at the two finalists.
Manuel Neuer is a World Cup winner, multiple German champion and DFB Cup winner and in addition to this, a Champions League winner and four-time World’s Best Goalkeeper. His opposite number has also won the Champions League - three times in fact (all with Real Madrid). Keylor Navas has also been a league champion in France and in Spain. Neuer proved once again this season that he is rightly considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world. "Manuel is unique," eulogised board member and goalkeeping legend Oliver Kahn on Thursday. The FCB captain is hard to beat in one-on-ones, and the 34-year-old has outstanding reflexes and perfect sweeper-keeper skills. Navas also impresses with cat-like reflexes and gives his defence a lot of security with his noticeable charisma. A possible disadvantage compared to Neuer though is the Costa Rican’s height (1.84m to Neuer’s 1.93m). In addition, the 33-year-old injured himself in the quarter-finals against Atalanta BC. He was replaced in the semi-finals by Sergio Rico, who won the 2015 Europa League with Sevilla.
Experience and speed in the defences
In defence, FCB impress with a mix of great experience and searing pace. Central defenders Jérôme Boateng and David Alaba were able to lift the UCL trophy as early as 2013. They are joined by Alphonso Davies, Benjamin Pavard and Joshua Kimmich in the full back position, all of whom are safe at the back and have a strong offensive drive. Should Boateng (muscular injury) not be ready for action, Niklas Süle is on hand to stop the French attacking prowess. On the other side, there is the Brazil captain Thiago Silva, world champion Presnel Kimpembe as well as former Schalke player Thilo Kehrer and ex-Bayern man Juan Bernat. With only five goals conceded, PSG boast the best defence in the current competition, but are not considered to be totally without weaknesses.
Bayern’s goalscoring schemers in central midfield
In central midfield, Hansi Flick has played Thiago and Leon Goretzka in the last few games. Should Pavard be fit, Kimmich would also be an option for the centre of the park. No matter who the coach puts in the line-up, all of them have convinced so far with strong tackling and solid positioning. Goretzka, in particular, has a great eye for goal. The French, on the other hand, are not so strong in that particular department. The main task of Ander Herrera, Idrissa Gueye, Marco Verrati, Leandro Paredes or Marquinhos is to keep the strong attacking line in check. The latter, however, has made a name for himself as a goalscorer in the last two games.
The best attacks in the world
The showpiece of both teams is their attack . On Sunday, arguably the best attacks in the world will be sharing the same pitch. With 42 goals, Bayern have the most prolific strike force in the current competition. In addition, Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry have become the most prolific duo in Champions League history. Like Thomas Müller, the pair are currently in top form. With PSG, Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Angel di Maria are blessed with superb technical ability and great speed. Especially after winning the ball, the Parisians transition into attack at breakneck speed. "Then it's off to Mbappé, then Neymar, then usually that’s that," Kahn warned.
German coaches face off
Since Hansi Flick took over FCB in November last year, the team really turned up the heat and have played some inspiring football. Currently, Munich are undefeated in 29 competitive matches (28 wins, 1 draw). Flick has played a big part in this. "What distinguishes him is his calmness, his level-headedness, his work with the coaching team. We are always well prepared, always have a plan," Neuer said, emphasising the importance of his coach. In the other dugout is Thomas Tuchel, another German, a coach who has taken PSG to the final for the first time in the club's history. The 46-year-old is considered a tactical perfectionist. His toughest task with the Paris giants, however, is to bring together all the big names in the team. "He's doing a sensational job," said Flick in praise of the coach, with whom he spent time in 2018.
FCB with strength in depth
One of FC Bayern's greatest assets is the depth of their squad. "We have excellent players beyond the 18-man squad - it's fantastic what we have in terms of players," Neuer stressed. On the bench in recent games, Kingsley Coman, Philippe Coutinho and world champion Lucas Hernández, for example, have all been patiently waiting their turn. In Julian Draxler, Tuchel also has a world champion up his sleeve, but overall the French squad is not as deep as that of FCB’s.
PSG will contest their first Champions League final on Sunday. For the Bavarians it is their sixth final at this level: