Or will it be an all-French final?
We’ve seen some really impressive performances in European competition over the last few days, starting obviously with Bayern absolutely crushing Barcelona by the deeply humiliating, and also hilarious, score of 8-2.
PSG, with Neymar foucssed and in form and Mbappe seemingly back to full fitness, will take some beating in the final on the strength of their excellent showing against Red Bull.
And in the lesser weight division, Inter I thought looked a serious outfit against poor Shakhtar Donetsk. I would except the Serie A runners-up to be a force in the next season of the Champions League, which is bizarrely already underway but whatever.
But our attention returns now to this premium contest, the semi-final of the 2019-2020 Champions League, with Lyon and Bayern Munich doing battle over one leg tonight for the right to face Paris in the final on Sunday.
In any normal circumstances the right-thinking person would obviously want Lyon to beat the German monolith, but i personally really cannot bear PSG in general, and have a deep dislike of Neymar, so I guess I want whichever of these two teams is most likely to rain on PSG’s parade. The bookies have got little doubt about who is going to win, they price Lyon at 6-1 to win in the 90, and Bayern 4-1 on, 10-1 the draw. So it seems pretty clear from those odds that the feeling is for a German win. And when you look at the ‘to qualify’ market, the belief seems firm that the legendary German self-confidence and ability from the penalty spot if needed should be enough: 10-1 on that Bayern go through by hook or by crook.
We have got some excellent preview content for this one, and we’ll start with the typically forensic examination from the brilliant JJ Bull about the Bayern left-back, Alphonso Davies. JJ notes:
There is more to Davies than elite-level athleticism but when he gets going it’s pretty incredible to watch – and even more difficult for those on the same pitch to stop. At its heart, football depends heavily on pace, strength and stamina and few players in the world could possibly hope to keep up with Davies, let alone get close enough to bump him off the ball.
These attributes were on full show for his assist in Bayern’s stunning 8-2 quarter-final win over Barcelona. A quick shimmy, shoulder drop and burst of pace sent opposition full-back Nelson Semedo into another dimension, Davies kept his composure and control of the ball, then set up Joshua Kimmich for a tap-in. Even through a television screen it felt momentous – this was the level Barcelona were supposed to be at in order to compete – and as Davies raced away from the helpless Semedo, it was clear that something special was happening.
The rapid rise of Alphonso Davies: How Bayern Munich’s Canadian left-back developed into one of the world’s best
Have a bang on that while we wait for the team news, and there is also this piece from Jason Burt explaining how and why Bayern are THE team to beat in Europe right now.
At Bayern Munich they do not like to admit it but it was probably the humiliating 3-1 Champions League defeat at home to Liverpool last season that led to the team eventually being transformed into the most formidable in Europe right now.
Whether or not Bayern, who face Lyon in the semi-finals, go on to win this season’s edition of the Champions League remains to be seen, but if they do then the current side may also lay claim to being the greater ever in the club’s history just a few months after another humiliation, losing 5-1 in the Bundesliga to Eintracht Frankfurt.
That defeat led to the sacking of coach Niko Kovac – “something definitely has to change,” goalkeeper Manuel Neuer declared after losing to Frankfurt – amid fears that Bayern were set to lose the German title for the first time in eight years.
Instead, they went on an extraordinary run under new coach Hansi Flick – initially promoted just to be a caretaker – who has overseen a remarkable sequence of played 34, won 31, lost two and drawn just one. More than that, Bayern are on a streak of 19 straight wins in all competitions. Since Flick took over they have scored 122 goals – at an average of 3.6 goals per game – and kept 17 clean sheets.