Defence, FC Bayern, Paris Saint-Germain

Defensive strength lays foundation for win in Paris

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In the days leading up to Bayern's Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain, Julian Nagelsmann was repeatedly asked how he and his team were going to stop the French champions' feared forward line comprising superstars Neymar, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappé: "It's only possible as a collective," the coach usually replied - well aware that Munich's defensive unit had usually done its job with flying colours on the European stage so far this season.

Matthijs de Ligt, Kylian Mbappé
Matthijs de Ligt tackles sub Kylian Mbappé.

And indeed, it was again the defence that sealed Bayern's victory in the crucial 1-0 first leg win. FCB have posted clean sheets in six of their seven European games this term and are the only team not to concede a goal before the break. As Munich were not content merely to defend but also offered sparkling attacking football at time , the outcome at Parc des Princes was a clear plus of 10 to 1 shots on goal in favour of the visitors at the break.

'We defended very well'

"It was very important that we didn't concede," said the head coach, highlighting the "very good control" exercised by his team, especially in the early stages of the game. There was also plenty of praise for the back three. Matthijs de Ligt and Dayot Upamecano had "defended very well," said the 35-year-old, and Benjamin Pavard also "played a good game" despite being sent off shortly before the end. Nagelsmann's summary was understandably positive: "I'm satisfied."

Yann Sommer, Kylian Mbappé
Yann Sommer made a brilliant 73rd minute save from Kylian Mbappé.

However, the full story is that PSG were not able to play the full 90 minutes with their best players. Mbappé, who has been struggling with injury recently, only came into the game just short of the hour mark and significantly revitalised the French team's attack. "You could see what brining on a player of this calibre can do even for a team as good as Paris," said CEO Oliver Kahn, "so it was all the more important that Yann Sommer kept us in the game".

Bayern alone with clean sheets in Paris

The Bayern goalkeeper preserved the victory with a string of saves in the closing stages, including an extraordinary reflex stop against Mbappé in the 73rd minute. "We defended high up the field. It's a gift for the goalkeeper when the forwards defend like that," the Swiss shot-stopper modestly insisted. Together with his teammates, the keeper achieved something not exactly ordinary. It was only the second time in PSG's most recent 33 Champions League home games that the visiting defence remained unbreached - both times the opponents were FC Bayern. It seems Nagelsmann and Co. really know how to defend in Paris.

Kingsley Coman's golden goal sealed victory for FCB in Paris:

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